Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 02:52 PM
Posted by Administrator
The Plaintiff unfortunate enough to have been so severely injured in an auto accident that they are now in a wheelchair won't be sitting at the Plaintiff's table in court for the two week long liability trial. He will wheel in, from time to time, and then he will leave. You don't want the jury to get too used to seeing the wheelchair or they will become desensitized to it and will award less money.

In a wrongful death tire case I was involved in some years ago*, the Plaintiff's lawyer paraded in the decedent's children....introduced them to the jury....and led them the courtroom door. Familiarity may not have bred contempt but ...conventional wisdom says: it won't engender sympathy.

When your lawyer does something to rile up the other side in an attempt to induce them to settle.....settle up quick. Time leads to complacency. There is a chance to come to terms with what scares you and it doesn't scare you so much, anymore.

There is a reason why the saying "Strike while the iron is hot." has withstood the test of time. It is not because cattle ranchers dawdle after taking their branding iron out of the fire. It IS because non-cattle ranchers forget that:...when the iron is hot: you should strike.

*Note: Though I am a modest man, I do claim credit for: Least-time-spent-in-a-courtroom in a Palm Beach County wrongful death case decided by a jury. My client, a local tire company, was sued by the decedent only so the case could be in Palm Beach County (as opposed to another, more backwoods county, where the Plaintiff would not be likely to get as much is a "venue" thing). I was there before jury selection and I told the judge I'd see him at the close of the Plaintiff's case. I stopped in, from time to time, to see where the trial was at; I showed up when I promised; I asked the judge for a directed verdict as there had been no evidence that my client (whose employees may have once looked at the tire that later blew out) had anything to do with anything. The judge granted the motion. The other defendants lost.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 06:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
On my way to Tallahassee, Tuesday night, as I reached the first exit I75 exit for Lake City, I answered a phone call from my daughter. "We were in an accident.", she said. I met up with her and my wife at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital about 2 hours later. She is okay. The car is not too bad and I'll do the rest of this entry....about hospitals, car insurance companies, police officers, and other related things.... tomorrow or Friday. ......or next Monday...

My wife had told my daughter to call me and question whether she should go to the hospital. She told me that she had back pain, neck pain and tingling. A lot of car-accident-injuries show up a day or two after the accident (or, are imagined a day or two or a week or two after). Back pain, neck pain, radiating pain in a minor accident are probably symptoms of muscles tensing and stretching (you see the accident about to happen, tighten up and then get jerked), but, broken spines happen and are tragic. The hospital emergency room won't fix you....but they'll take x-rays and tell you whether something is badly messed up. I told her to get on the ambulance.

V1 on a car accident report short form (the first car listed on the form) is the police officer's idea of the at fault vehicle. My wife was unhappy that she was listed as V1....especially since the deputy said to her: "If the accident happened the way you said it did, how did you car get to where it is." Her answer was: "When my daughter called 911, they told me to move it." The GEICO claims person I spoke with said
they didn't pay much attention to the V1 thing anymore. Having driven with my wife for years (she hates my driving and does most of it, herself), I have no doubt that she turned from left lane to left lane and that the other car...making a right turn onto the same road...intruded into her lane.

We would like the other driver's insurance to pay for the collision damage for two reasons: 1) I don't want to pay my $500 deductible...2) Though this will counted by GEICO as a claim no matter what....I'd like to minimize the claim and try to keep my insurance rates low. I believe is is doubtful that Liberty Mutual (their insurer) will pay since the other driver is going to blame my wife. I hope and expect GEICO won't buy into this and pay their damage... but.....I have no control. (MANY years after I got hit by a turning vehicle and, in a different accident around the same time, my wife ran a red light and got hit, I happened to be talking to an adjuster for our (then) insurance company. According to the adjuster, the insurance companies in those two accidents decided I was more at fault for going straight and getting hit by a car turning into my path than she was for running a red light and getting hit.)

If my daughter is unlucky enough to have a claim for injuries (because there is a reasonable chance she will be permanently injured or disfigured....the Florida threshold for injury claims), I'll find a Tallahassee lawyer who doesn't advertise on the back of buses and ask for my 25% of their fee lawyer-referral fee (which I will kick back to my daughter---assuming that this is not a violation of the Rules of the Florida Bar).

An economist...whose name escapes me...wrote a piece about the speed of cars...which I didn't read but I read something about it in a blog for the now-defunct Lightfoot bicycle company out of Montana. This is what the idea is...more or less and with my own spin...... You work 10 hours a week to afford your car, you spend 2 hours a week dealing with oil changes, washes, insurance, parking....then, you drive 100 miles in an hour and a half. But, really, you spend 13 and a half hours, in total, getting 100 miles down the road in your car. That's around 7 miles an hour. Bicycles are faster.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 10:21 AM
Posted by Administrator
Note: If you have nothing to do with credit unions, don't bother reading this entry.....b-o-r-I-n-g.

THE PROBLEM WITH CREDIT UNIONS.... When you put money in your bank account, the bank considers that it owes you money. You are carried on its books as a "payable". When you put money in a CREDIT UNION account, its books reflects that you have additional "shares" in the credit an amount equal to your deposit. If you owe your bank money, and file bankruptcy, the bank will wipe out the debt but can't wipe out the payable. If you owe a credit union, the bankruptcy will wipe out the debt........and the credit union will cancel your shares (my guess is that they have a perfected security interest in the shares)....your deposit (at least in an amount equal to your debt) will disappear.

It is bad form to have money in a bank you owe to (there is a "common law" from merry olde England that we have adopted... right to, in some circumstances, the bank can dip into your account. But, it is worse to have "money" "in" a credit union you owe money to. So....don't.

(Note: Credit unions will give you your "shares" back if you sign a Reaffirmation Agreement....but, is that something you want to do? Bankruptcy doesn't always wipe out anything or everything. Insert other appropriate disclaimers here _______________________________)

Note: I warned you not to read this!

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AUTO-PAY, ACH, and....Was I wrong? Update. 
Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 11:07 AM
Posted by Administrator
I have written previously on the subject of letting creditors take money directly from your bank account. In that entry, I reported what some bank-people had told me about stopping these payments when, for instance, you are anticipating filing bankruptcy or otherwise object to allowing a creditor the power to dip into your money.

Sometimes, it is a good idea to wait to file bankruptcy. Do you need your tax refund money to fix your teeth or your roof? In the meantime, maybe you want to stop paying your bills...including the payments that come right out of your account (though, of course, allowing payments to come right out of your account WAS a BAD IDEA).

Here is my understanding (based on conversations with even more bank-people than previously including two who...based upon my past experience....know what they are talking about):

1) Stop the ACH payment. (Put a "stop" on it same as you would stop a check.) BUT, the creditor could try to take $1 more or a $1 less than the amount you agreed upon and this could/would result in the "stop" not working. You could dispute the payment with the bank but, in the meantime, you won't have the money.

2) CLOSE THE ACCOUNT. Don't sort-of close it (I mention this because it seems to me some bank-people are work adverse and many are lose-an-account adverse). Close it. Don't link it with a new account. This may take a few weeks to accomplish (because of checks needing to clear), so, open another account (at another bank+), NOW and start doing check-writing out of the new account.

Two things (really, three):
A) The "+" I have next to "at another bank" is there for a reason: Go to another bank. Even if your present bank would like you to open the new account there. Why? Because of the sayings "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you." also, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." and "A stitch in time saves nine." (Note: I am a great believer in the truth of old sayings. The truth in them is the reason they have stood the test of time. So, I say: "Go the extra mile." and start fresh at a new bank.*)
B) DON'T LET ANY CREDITORS DIP INTO YOUR NEW ACCOUNT. (Buy a book of stamps at the post office. Send creditors a check. This puts 2 wonderful layers of security between your money and people you owe it to: SPACE----the distance your check will travel from the mailbox to, for instance, a creditors PO Box in Des Moines, Iowa......and TIME--the time it will take your check to travel by truck and plane to Des Moines. Let the SPACE/TIME continuum work for you!)
C)The "*" after "...a new bank." is also there for a reason. I will do an entry about credit unions, soon, and explain. (Update: I did write about it....see the entry, above.)

The use of computers, satellites and fiber optic cable to digitally/electronically transfer funds over great distances in sub-milliseconds is a wonderful thing......for big corporations...NOT (usually) for you and me.

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OBJECTION! Learn the job. 
Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 12:17 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yesterday afternoon, before we left for the fancy seats personal injury lawyer LANCE IVEY from Lytal, Reiter, gave us for the Giants/Dolphins game, I had a brief and uneventful foreclosure hearing. The hearing was about a Stipulation we'd entered into about when/where/how to enter a Final Judgment of Foreclosure. My client, the homeowner, landed up on the witness stand.

And, there is an idea/concept/paradigm/protocol to follow when witnesses are testifying and saying things the lawyer on the other side believes are non-responsive/inadmissible/inappropriate....I will tell you what it is. It is not merely have to start by saying one (1) word. Here it is: OBJECTION. You probably guessed this from the title of this entry or learned about the word watching television. And, you would think lawyers would know about the word.......but (and I don't limit this to the lawyer representing the bank at our hearing)...frequently, they don't.

Yes, you are supposed to say "Objection" and then state the grounds of your objection. For instance "Objection, leading."; "Objection, calls for hearsay."; "Objection-legally irrelevant." "Objection-logically irrelevant." (Okay, I'm showing off, lawyers have to think pretty quickly to distinguish between these and "Objection-irrelevant." is good enough.) Though you are supposed to state the legal grounds for your objection, really, everyone would be pretty happy if the lawyer would at least get out the word "Objection." Yesterday, my client was rambling and I was hoping the other lawyer would object and that would help get her back on track ("Objection, the answer is no longer responsive to the question/rambling."). In the end, I was forced to interrupt my own witness and I find that tacky.

Yesterday's lawyer thought the correct way to express his frustration with the witness was to say to the judge: "Judge, the witness really doesn't know about this, the documents are not in evidence...." Since he didn't say "Objection" before his commentary, my client continued to talk.

Did the lawyer not watch enough TV growing up? Did he not ever read a lawyer book? I thought of calling him, today, or emailing and saying, more or less "Don't take this the wrong way but we are all professionals and I am 30 years older than you, so, maybe you'll take this in the spirit it is is a good idea to use that "objection" should try it".

But, he was kind of an ass.

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Monday, December 14, 2015, 01:38 PM
Posted by Administrator
I just finished reading the contract proposed by a company called VIATOR to handle the reservations for our other business. Then, I emailed our proposed VIATOR representative to tell her that I couldn't sign the contract because....they wanted us to have more insurance than we did; we would owe them for reservations they got and we cancelled because the people were flaky, under-age, inept. Had I just accepted the agreement (clicking on the word "ACCEPT" can not be a binding, electronic signature), our business would likely have taken off like a rocket and we would be, by this time next year, hanging off the bow railing of our mega-yacht doing shots.

A twenty story building is being built about 100' from our front window. I watch the construction every day. In the beginning, the building was going to be called ISIS and was going to be "affordable housing from the 300's" (from the sign that was out front before ISIS became a world terror threat; before the building changed it's name; and before it became a project of million dollar condos with lots of amenities)Really, if the rest of the residential construction goings-on here in WPB are an indication(I talk to people), it is going to start as an apartment building....the condo market is "soft".

Prospective tenants will have their finances vetted (a word that actually does derive from veterinarians giving your dog a check-up) before they are allowed to rent. 18 months into their rental, they'll get a letter that says, more or less: "Your unit will be sold as a condo. You will be given the first right to buy it but, if you choose not to, it will soon be time to pack."

People like me who overanalyze will never move in....we know the ax is about to fall. People who think less will rent there and likely make a million bucks when it's time to resell the condo they were tricked/coerced into buying.

On the other hand, if life were fair, we'd all be trust fund babies and none of this would matter.
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Saturday, November 28, 2015, 10:54 AM
Posted by Administrator
As long-time blog readers may recall: When I bought the 1967(?) Austin Healy MkIII, 3000 outside of Denver in 1971(?)and my friend who was trailing me home saw oil smoke pouring out of the tailpipe, the seller refused to give me my money back even through I pointed out to him that I was under 18 and, therefore, unable to make an enforceable contract. I was reminded of this, yesterday evening, when 7 girls came to rent 4 scooters from our other business. The four girls intending to drive said they were 18. The others, who I momentarily assumed must be older, turned out to be 15?, 16?, 17?

And, like all businesses that rent a potentially dangerous product, to rent from us, you have to sign a Release that says you can't sue the company (or, it's employees) for injuries......even if we are negligent. The company couldn't afford to do business if it were liable for injuries. You know it is a dangerous responsible for yourself or find your fun elsewhere. But, if someone is under 18, their signature is worthless....they are considered incompetent....they are mere babies.

(Also, I really don't want to call a 15 years olds father and have to say "Your daughter was injured riding one of our scooters." He would likely say, more or less "What the h___ were you doing letting my 15 year old daughter on your scooter.")

So..........under 18.......can't sign contracts (unless a court has declared you emancipated because you are a movie star..... or, maybe, for necessities if you are on your own). Have a problem with that?

Grow up.
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Saturday, November 21, 2015, 02:10 PM
Posted by Administrator
....though I do not look to be a day over 59.
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Thursday, November 12, 2015, 11:32 AM
Posted by Administrator
Talking, this morning, to a previous client on the phone and also to the banker standing in front of me, I confirmed:
1) When you let creditors take money directly from your bank account, the bank can't/won't stop them.
2) You can ask the creditor to stop taking the money from the account but, why would they? They'll know that you don't want to pay.
3) If you close the account to avoid creditors taking out their payment, the bank will reopen the account once the creditor makes its demand.
4) Then, you'll get overdrafts and charges.
5) And, "CheckSystems" will keep you from opening a new account in any bank once you have unpaid overdraft or other bank charges. (And, bankruptcy won't fix this.)

It is a pain to have to open an envelope; look at a bill; write a check to pay it; put the check in an envelope; mail the payment....but, the benefit of doing all this is that you retain control over when the payment is made and...more important, sometimes...whether the payment is made. Creditors want to you make paying their bill automatic....and that, in itself, is a reason not to. Creditors are likely smarter than us (we?) customers and anything that is good for them is probably bad for us.

There are lots of quick, easy ways to get things done....but, in general, quick and easy is not in the doer's best interests. The quickest and easiest way to the bottom of a cliff?

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We've been back for almost a week. 
Monday, November 9, 2015, 08:59 PM
Posted by Administrator
I had hoped to have something to write related to our trip to Spain and France, but, nothing related to legal stuff happened.

I had copies of my bank's wire transfers to the Netherlands Ministry of Justice with me to prove up that I had paid my three Dutch speeding tickets from last year... in case Spanish immigration came up with some kind of hold when they ran our passports when we entered the country at the Barcelona Airport. I rented a car from Hertz this time to avoid my Avis problem of last year when, at the Brussels airport, the man checking in my car after a week's rental decided that there was a 1" long scratch on the right front wheel. American Express took care of that charge. Anticipating a problem, I used AmEx with Hertz but...after a week's rental, the man at Hertz said that I'd done a great job not screwing up their car.

We passed a French prison in the countryside. My wife said "That's probably their only prison." We passed another late on: just a few miles from the beach.

We did not see a police car on the road from Barcelona to Carcassone, France and only one or two during our trip to Montpelier. I'd heard France has started to give out photo-box-radar tickets so I was usually the slowest car on the road. There was a group of a half dozen motorcycle cops riding duplicate dark blue BMW motorcycles at the last toll booth in France. In a minute, we passed a town called La Junqueria. The town appeared to have hundreds of giant stores but no residential area. Later, the woman at the front desk at our Toosa de Mar hotel said it was an independent country (Andorra is around 50km from La Junqueria and it IS an independent country). Wikipedia said La Junqueria was the home of a huge brothel and a sex trafficking destination. TripAdvisor said it was a big shopping center. Why were the cops at that toll booth?

I drove slowly on.

Back at the Barcelona airport for the trip home, all the passengers were interviewed before they checked their bags by people who, I think, were hired to do this job the day before. "What was your favorite thing about Barcelona?" "Do you live in Florida?" "What was the purpose your trip here?" All of this designed to elicit a reaction from passengers who were uncomfortable with the questions...and might not have really been going to or from a vacation. The Russian airliner had been blown up after takeoff form Sharm el Sheik a few days earlier. A lone bearded man with a submachine gun walked through the terminal past our gate. He looked like a young Fidel. A private company had people approaching passengers and bringing them to a cordoned-off area for more searching. Profiling is okay in Spain.

Unrelated to any of this, a documentary movie focused on men my age riding motorcycles on twisting mountain roads near the Mediterranean played on a video monitor at each gate. I watched until we boarded.

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We will be open Thursday, Nov. 5th.... 
Tuesday, November 3, 2015, 05:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
We'll be out of the area and, likely, unreachable from now: 6:30PM EST on Tues, Nov. 3rd until Wed., Nov 4th, sometime in the evening.
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Saturday, October 24, 2015, 08:50 PM
Posted by Administrator
If you have trouble getting in touch with us:

email at (note: steve NOT steven)

email at

If it is an emergency or real


It is likely that I will not answer until I have seen the same number 2-3 times in succession. So, call.....let it ring.......and call back once or twice. Note that I will be hard to get in touch with from approx. 4PM until 3AM.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015, 11:15 AM
Posted by Administrator
I THINK WE ARE ALL BOZOS ON THIS BUS was the title of a comedy album (no kidding....comedy on a vinyl type record) from the '70s by the Firesign Theatre. I remember listening to it when I was in my very late teens but I wouldn't now because I think you have to be in a certain "state of mind" to find it funny and I have not been in that "state of mind" for 20 years. But, to this day, "We are all bozos on this bus." is my 3rd or 4th favorite quote (British WWII Prime Minster, Winston Churchill remains in the #1 quote spot: "It is not the is probably not the beginning of the end...but, it just may be the end of the beginning.").

Anyway... I was reminded of the Bozo quote after meeting, today, with my grandson's elementary school principal (smart guy....I liked him) and realizing his mother was not-so-good at being forthright and direct and strong and forthcoming in the face of school authority. (I did most of the talking.)

There is the idea, when public speaking, of imagining your audience is in their underwear. Gross. I like my idea better....for both public and private speaking.

The original Bozo was a clown in white face with huge, floppy shoes, a big red nose and huge orange hair. He had a TV show in New York and, I believe, he or other, local Bozos, had TV shows all over the country. He was not meant to be taken seriously. He was, after all, a clown. The TV shows were slapstick and games for an audience of kids. It was 1962.

And, really, we are all Bozos. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all act stupid some of the time. No matter how serious we seem to be.........we are all idiots no worse or better than anybody else. What had the principal done that made him as much of a Bozo as me? I don't know. I don't want to know. But, I've been around long enough to know that he is (smart guy though, I liked him).

So, why be intimidated or concerned? He/she/them is probably intimidated and concerned by you. Worried about sounding stupid? So are they. Think they think less of you because of your race, ethnicity, job, background? Afraid to speak up because you think someone is better/smarter/more educated than you? Remember: We are all Bozos on this bus....we all go home to happiness and misery; we're all terrified we'll be "found out for what we really are; we all have lied, cheated and stolen (in varying amounts and to varying degrees...but, we all have); we all have moments of brilliance and bouts of stupidity. He/she/them ain't no better than me/we/us. To think of anybody in the rest of humanity in any other Bozo himself would say:

"That's a Bozo no-no."

(No kidding, that's what Bozo would say.)

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 10:21 AM
Posted by Administrator
Recently, I have had to go to the Internet to get phone numbers for lawyers who I vaguely know or who I only know of. Older with excellent reputations...who I have engaged as a mediator or for whom I have an esoteric question. Googling them by name, I have, time and again, landed up at a lawyer referral site. The site gives each a rating. And, the ratings are not so good.

When I am googled, I hope and expect that people land at my website. I was out there, years ago, fighting against the reality that Chicago-talk-show-host Steve Dahl was the #1 result for people googling me. In the beginning, my sister, Joanne, would come up before I did.....when internet users were trying to find me, using my name. So, I started a website and did this blog (search engines favor websites with new content). I never did fancy things that would get me business (SEO maximization, for example), but, on the other hand: my phone number can be found.

Anyway, why do these older men who are great lawyers (probably older women too....(but I haven't had reason to look for an old woman lawyer on the internet---not sexist, just likely I already have their phone numbers.....) have crappy ratings? The answer, I believe, is that they barely know ratings exist. But, young lawyers do.

So, young lawyers (along with those who think young, want to be young, hang out with the young), tell their friends: "Hey, do me a favor and give me a review on the lawyer rating site." They also tell this to clients who like them; their mother's bridge club; the people at the Synagogue. There is nothing wrong with this. But, it is not something that the older among us would think to do or feel comfortable doing.

I am not saying that I do not ever huck for reviews. I do....for our other business renting motor scooters. But, I'm not going to ask a client to review my lawyering skills on the internet. I've got three reasons:
1) The lawyer directory/referral websites are a bad thing. Their reason for being is to filter your inquiry about a lawyer through them and then show pop up ads for other lawyers who pay them.
2) The lawyer/client thing is confidential and private and personal and it is tacky to ask clients for bare their soul on the internet.
3) Did the lawyer do a good job at lawyering? Or, did he/she just sound good and has the ability to convince the client that they were the savior? I am not sure clients always know.

In the end, a lot of information is misinformation.
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Monday, September 28, 2015, 10:25 AM
Posted by Administrator
After my first year of law school, I developed a system of doing well (before that, I was a mediocre student). The system was: take notes, write down everything the professor said, spit it back on the exam (there was only one exam per class), get "A". The professors, I figured out, only cared to hear what they had said.

But, taking notes leading to success in school is not what this entry is about (I did, however, want to take a moment first to pat myself on the back). This is about taking notes in business dealings.

The rules of evidence say that you can use notes taken near to the time of an event to refresh your recollection. In other words, you are on the witness stand and I ask: "Could you tell us what the man said when he phoned you?" (Note: "the man" is an agent for the company you are suing, in this example, and what he said comes in as an exception to the "rule against hearsay".....a "speaking agent", statements made by a party to the case). You answer: "I don't remember exactly." I ask: "Do you have anything with you that might refresh your recollections of what he said?" "Yes, I do." "What?" "My notes that I took during and immediately after our conversation."

Everyone in the courtroom gasps as you take out your notes and begin to refresh your recollection. Now, everyone will believe everything you say the man said because you have those notes. And, notes never lie.

So, when you are on the phone with the collection agent.....take notes on what he/she says. (Note: Don't say anything, yourself....just listen.) The car mechanic: "It's just a relay."...until you get the bill for replacing a compressor. The Dean of Housing at your kid's college. Sit there with your computer powered up and write yourself an email.

The other day, I had an a/c issue. The company had been out, before, and I began to get different stories from different people. I emailed myself about each conversation and transaction. When I wrote my letter to the company, I quoted their employees from my notes. And, in the end, we came to an "understanding". They recognized they had a problem........and that I had documented it.

My letter said, at the end..."If any facts stated in this letter are inaccurate, you must let me know within a reasonable time." I did this so that I would be in a position to post a review on the internet....and that they would be unable to complain/sue me for libel because I gave them the opportunity to "correct" me. The hint that I was going to post what happened, somewhere, was...I think...obvious. that we are adults trying not to get ripped off...they're not just for school, anymore.
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Thursday, September 17, 2015, 07:50 PM
Posted by Administrator
I used to sell cars. It was 30+ years ago and I learned more from 2 years of that than I have from 30 years of lawyering. But, I sold cars in the dark ages....before there were FINANCE GUYS.

FINANCE GUYS are the creme de la creme of car salespeople. After you are blood- sugar-depleted and dehydrated and ego-destroyed by the crappy deal you just made with your car salesperson, the FINANCE GUY (could be a woman...I dunno) descends on you to "do the paperwork".

I once violate my rule: NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM A FINANCE GUY. It was 2 leases ago. I bought the MAJOR SERVICE PACKAGE and landed up with a booklet for free oil changes. For my last car lease, I faced the lying liar who tricked me into that one and told him "You lied to me last time....I'm not buying anything from you, today." (Really, he remembered who I was from all the complaining I did and we did not speak at all.)

Today, it was the same dealer....but, different FINANCE GUY. I told him I had been lied to in that dealership before by the FINANCE GUY. "I'm only going to tell you about the RUN FLAT TIRE WARRANTY," he said. "You can't fix run flat tires and they are $400 each." I didn't bite. I googled it when I got home: $167 for a tire. Expensive...but, not $400 each.

He handed me papers to sign. He handed me a RECISION AGREEMENT. "This gives you notice of our legal right to take the car back within 30 days if (we can't get financing for you)." "But", I said "you don't have a legal right to take the car back unless I sign that. You aren't just giving me NOTICE of a right you already have." "Yes we have that right," he said.

Lying liar lies.

Always.....when buying or leasing a smarter than me.

Note: Jesus Rabinowitz, a former South Florida lawyer, writes for the blog from under a bridge outside of Jacksonville. Jesus says: "I checked the TIRE RACK website on google and, it turns out that in many instances you CAN repair run flat tires."
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MY PROMISE: Thta the next entry will be more interesting than the previous two. 
Monday, September 14, 2015, 03:46 PM
Posted by Administrator
And, also, that my spelling will improve.

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Monday, September 14, 2015, 03:38 PM
Posted by Administrator
Here is my current rate structure:

Bankruptcy: Always flat fee for Chapter 7s (usually $1,500 plus costs of around $400 for filing fee and some other things) with the fee including: Petition and Schedule preparation; attendance at "341 Meeting"; negotiations with Trustee (if necessary); and NOT INCLUDING: adversary actions; motions to dismiss; motions to determine dischargeability; court appearances (NOTE: I HAVEN'T HAD ANY OF THESE THINGS GO ON IN ONE OF MY CHAPTER 7s IN MANY YEARS....I think it was around 3 years ago that I charged a Chapter 7 client more than the flat fee. My rate beyond the flat fee is $300 per hour (except, see below).

Divorce: Always hourly (unless, maybe, if is a "West County" case) at $300 per hour for all in-court time and $300 for hour for out-of-court (EXCEPT out-of-court is $250 hour if the bill is paid within 48 hours).

Criminal Defense: Always a flat fee.

Injury: Always a contingency fee (you pay nothing unless we recover money for you0.
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Monday, September 14, 2015, 12:55 PM
Posted by Administrator
Those reader who know us are aware that we have a second business, renting motor scooters, that we've been working since 2011. We likely know more about motor scooter, motor scooter law, and motor scooter accidents than anyone within 1,000 miles of here. We know the mechanics of how scooter accidents happen.........heck, we've watched some happen (no significant injuries in the accidents that have happened while we are teaching our renters to ride). Some accidents follow the same series of events that lead to most motor vehicle accidents and some are the result of things and events unique to the world of low-powered two wheeled motor vehicles.

So, if you have been involved in an accident involving a motor scooter (motorcycle or bicycles), call us.

And, above all else, when you are riding, remember YOU GO WHERE YOU LOOK.

Because, you really DO go where you look.
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Saturday, September 5, 2015, 01:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am not funny. I may try to be, but, I know the truth. I understand that the basis of humor is to do/say/present the unexpected happy/odd/coincidental thing with the expectation that the target of the humor will be surprised in a pleasant way.

For instance, if a large group of people is standing around complementing someone on their tie and I walk up to him and say: "Stan, you look great....except for the tie." AND, I say it with a big smile on my face so that people will know that I am looking for a laugh and that I am not trying to be an line MAY be funny. And, if I want to be funny and to make people laugh, I have to take the chance that I will NOT be funny...or, worse, that I will say something stupid. Sometimes, saying something I hope will work, I land up looking like an ass. Oh, well. People who have committed to trying to be funny have all accepted this downside.

A great man (George Barrs) once told me "They'll never hurt your client if they're laughing." The "they" was a reference to judges. By "hurt", George meant go hard on them/give them the maximum time/sent them to jail and throw away the key. So, it was sometimes.... and not in the middle of a trial with a jury sitting there or in front of "victims"....good to get the courtroom to laugh.

Many (if not most) judges I have met would have liked to have made it as stand-up comics. The courtroom they sit in is THEIR courtroom and, within the bounds of not joking so much that it hurts their re-election chances, their bench is their stage for their show and the gallery of not-incarcerated criminal defendants (as well as prisoners sitting in chains), or lawyers waiting for their cases to be heard, or small claims plaintiff & defendants probably is looking for a reason to laugh. And, while it is bad form to laugh in court in general, if it's the Judge's joke, laughing is somewhere between encouraged and required.

An important rule for lawyers to remember is that it is the Judge's courtroom and, while their getting a laugh can be appropriate......even helpful to their client's cause....the Judge gets to tell the final joke.

And, the lawyers are required to laugh.

And, then everyone moves on.

Over years of practicing locally, it is likely that some Judges have observed or have come to believe, by way of their reputation, that some particular lawyers are funny....or try, sometimes, to get a laugh. Though I am not one of these lawyers (because I am not funny), I believe these lawyers have an advantage in that when they are dead-freak'in-serious (in the sense of not trying at all to be in any way funny) it likely makes the Judge think to him/herself: "Mr. Rabinowitz is not being his usually humorous self today...I wonder if he is not feeling well or if he is pissed off and, if he is pissed off, there must be a message in it. And, if there is a message, what could the message be?"


And, I believe that send a message this way is a VERY effective form of communication, though I cannot do this as I am not funny.

Note: Mr. Smith is a retired South Florida lawyer who now resides in Northern Wyoming, near the Canadian border. He is back writing for us after an extended absence. He writes this entry at the Tim Horton's Donuts located in the Medicine Hat Mall in nearby Medicine Hat, Alberta...(The answer to the obvious question? Salted Caramel Timbits and coffee).

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Thursday, August 27, 2015, 04:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
The hit-counter has, again, reset itself. I believe it does this from time to time to humble try to convince me that in the entire history of the blog.........I have had only 10 hits. Or 20.

I believe....(and I direct this solely to those who are interested in my beliefs)....that the blog has had around 400,000 to 500,000 hits. Most of them were my mother.......she passed a couple of years ago.
The next largest share was our dog, Sparky. He has passed, too.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015, 09:05 PM
Posted by Administrator
Every two years, we Florida lawyers must complete 30 hours of "Continuing Legal Education" as a condition to keeping our ticket to practice law. When I graduated law school, 30+ years ago, I ordered courses-on-cassette (remember cassettes?) produced by Irving Younger who was billed as "America's favorite CLE lecturer". He was and nobody has come close, since. I have quoted (or tried to Quote) Irving for 30 years now: "If someone seems not to like it that you're a lawyer, tell them: My mother made me do it."; "If you win your trial, so you go across the street and have a drink.....and, if you lose, well, you have two."; "At the end of the (criminal) trial, make sure that at worst it is your client...and not you...that goes to jail."

Since no CLE lecturer in the years since Irving died has come close to him for either educational or entertainment value, I decided to pay $99 for a "bundle" of courses that would fulfill my 30 hour requirement....rather than pick and choose courses that sounded good at a cost of 30 times that. Here is what I have learned so far....8 hours in:

-LLCs are the business entity of choice and provide great asset protection (except if it is one member LLC).
-The local school district may have to pay for full time boarding school for kids with disabilities.
-When lawyers or judges get messed up on drugs and thrown out of the profession, the question of whether they should be allowed back into the Bar depends on what is in the public's interests....not what is in their interests.
-There are a lot more arbitrations (private court...that you agreed to go to when you signed your mobile phone contract)....than I ever would have imagined.

I will learn more stuff in the next 5.3 weeks minus 5 days (so there is time to send the Certificates to the Bar): friendly divorces, picking juries in injury cases (Irving said to pick Italians because they love sun and wine and good times and not to pick people of German extraction because Germany is dark and depressing and why would an injury matter, anyway).

I can't wait!..... ( which I mean that the deadline is coming soon and, literally, I can't wait).

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AUGUST 1, 2015...325(321?) S. Dixie, 2nd Floor, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA, Earth, Milky Way 
Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 11:17 PM
Posted by Administrator
We have successfully moved upstairs in the sense that we have phone and internet. We are still moving stuff but, in the overall scheme of things, we are good to go.

Lobby in the center of the building (the same building...the FernDix...on the NW corner of S. Dixie and Fern)....between Velocity Spin-Cycle and Sun Spray (aka SunSpot) tanning.....elevator to second floor.....left, left.....and you are there.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 02:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
Aryanna, my daughter, did the new website (also, the website for the other business).

The website says, essentially, "debt/bankruptcy stuff and criminal us for other things". The other things I usually do are divorce/family law. Because of the emotion, frequent bad behavior, and lawyers causing controversy where there shouldn't be (including me?), too much of this sucks the life out of you. Since I want to limit the life-sucking part of my legal practice...I want the option to opt out if I've got too much going on. On the other hand, bankruptcy and criminal defense....maybe more congenial, much less paperwork intensive and has only a negligible effect on my blood pressure.

At the moment, I am office-challenged. I need a door. The door is coming. In the meantime, I am making do with what I've got, they are very nice at the coffee shop across the street....

Nick, my landlord, and I were trying to avoid negotiating my new lease, yesterday. We've been landlord/tenant for four years now and, I think, pretty much know what the other one is going to say/aren't concerned the other one is going to rip us off/and realize the other one believes what he believes and is relatively inflexible.

I gave up some things...he gave up some things. At one point, he began to explain to me how something was worth more than I was willing to admit it was worth....and that I should pay more. I pointed to one of his (3) computer screens (displaying stock prices and market trends) and said, more or less: "Do you try to convince your stocks that they should go up because the company made lots of money?"

Things are worth only what someone is willing to pay. There is no "intrinsic value". You would only convince me something is underpriced if you had someone willing....right now.... to pay more than am.

My sofa is worth $10...........maybe....on a good day. Our other business has 10 bicycles for sale. It appears they are worth nothing.

Anyway, we're still at 325 S. Dixie Hwy. (or, is it 321). Take the elevator to the second floor. I am the man who looks like me.
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Thursday, July 23, 2015, 10:42 AM
Posted by Administrator
My then friend, Billy Spiewak, and I saw FIDDLER ON THE ROOF on Broadway in NYC when I was about 14. My mother took the family to the SOUND OF MUSIC and I took my then girlfriend Lori Phillips to a Broadway musical about a bordello that I don't remember the name of in the early 70's........because my father took kickbacks. He bought boy's clothes for a now-defunct department store called ORBACHS. As a buyer, he controlled lots of money and clothing manufacturers gave him "gifts" for spending the store's money with them.

Yesterday, for the other business, I went to a nameless hotel in a nearby, nameless city to hand out money for scooter-rental referrals. I found the concierge I was looking for and said to her, more or less: "I want to give you money but I'm uncomfortable doing it in this giant rotunda with dozens of people walking by." She replied "It's okay." As I reached out with my $15 hidden somewhat by the fingers of my right hand, she reached over with her left hand and made the money disappear.

I am not exaggerating, the way she held her hand........fingers extended but held closely together in an inward arc, thumb in the exact middle of the arc opposite her index finger....had been, I imagine, learned over years in the hotel concierge business and practiced and perfected. The money, which stuck out an inch or two from my hand when I held it, disappeared immediately and completely from view once her hand came within an inch of mine. I was mesmerized.

When I was a child in law school, I seem to remember something about money earned in the course of your employment from outside sources belonging to your employer. In restaurants, tips are supposed to belong to the serving staff who are paid under minimum wage ....because of those tips. I don't think Mr. Orbach (yes, there was a Mr. Orbach) would have minded my Broadway shows....he likely had better seats when he went. And, now I know that the hotel industry is good with tips other than those to the Bellman. (I figure management knows the thing with the magical hand.)

Two things:
1) You've got to hope that when you ask the hotel concierge what there is to do in town, he/she doesn't base the recommendation on what business brings by the most cash.
2) At some point (e.g. $1M in the bank account of the United Airlines buyer who goes with Boeing), Federal Prison is the best option.
3) I brought by the $20 ($15 to one and $5 to someone who sent us a referral a month ago.....and who told me $5 was the appropriate "gratuity"-----I had asked), what does that make me?

I heard a story, the other day, that a lawyer paid $400 to a medical office assistant for each personal injury case the assistant sent to her. Then, I had two lawyers I know agree that it happened all the time. Best injury lawyer.....or injury lawyer that paid the best?
This is illegal, unethical........and rarely reported, rarely prosecuted.

Lawyers are allowed to pay each other for some referrals. Sometimes, it's a good doesn't cost the client extra and the lawyer to be paid is in a good position to make sure the client gets what he/she is entitled to. You've got to disclose this arrangement to the client. From the client's perspective, the conundrum always is:
-Are you referring me to the other lawyer because he/she is your friend?
-.....or, because he/she is paying you?
-.....or, because he/she sends you stuff and this is the quid pro quo for that?
-.....or, because he/she is the BEST LAWYER for the case I've got.

How do you know?

You don't.

Have a nice day.

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So, a my friend's daughter got rear ended on her way back from walking a dog which I may be related marriage, not blood. 
Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 10:50 PM
Posted by Administrator
I had said that $10 for walking Oso (who belongs to my niece Cindy...who I refer to as "cousin Cindy"...though I am not sure why), the dog, during lunch was not a good deal considering Oso lives about 6 miles North of where his daughter lives and I always figure 50 cents a miles as the average cost of driving anywhere. Six bucks in car expense per round trip means four bucks in your pocket. I was not expecting that she would get rear ended on the way back from the dog walk. Not much damage....but, $800 is $800 (at least until America regains it's middle class).

The daughter, who was almost stopped for a red light, did not see who hit her car....quickly backed up...and made a right turn at the light. She met me at the Palm Beach Gardens Police Dept. where I said to the desk clerk "I need some police advice." In a few minutes, a man my age....13 months from retirement, he said....handed my "friend" an exchange of driver information form and told her to fill it in and send it off. If she wanted to report it, that is.

The officer suggested she get an estimate, first and if it wasn't much more than her $500 collision deductible...not report it at all. Why have an insurance claim against your record if....for a couple of hundred extra don't have to. Guaranteed, a claim is going to up your rates...over a year or two...more than that "couple of hundred extra bucks".

Later in the day, the daughter said her back hurt. I told her that she could get money for a doctor to look at it and maybe money under her uninsured motorist coverage if she were permanently injured (uninsured coverage generally applies to hit and run drivers). But, on the other hand, she had back surgery years ago and, anyway, minor car accident injuries present a conundrum:

-To get money for a car accident injury in Florida, you've got to be permanently injured.
-If you fake it or play it for all it's worth...and, really, you're not particularly hurt...if you ever do get particularly hurt in another accident in the future....todays' injury will come back to haunt you. ("I see you were permanently impaired in an accident in 2015, did you recover money for that? And now, you've got the same problem in the same place? So, since your doctor said that 2015 injury was permanent, the injury you're claiming now is really the 2015 injury, right?" See where this is going?)

The daughter is 20. If she is at all physically active, she is going to take a whack in the back hundreds of times during her lifetime. There is nothing magical about a little extra back pain after getting bumped in your car at 5 miles an hour.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015, 10:55 AM
Posted by Administrator
What you write tends to look like what you meant to write. Grammatical errors go unnoticed.

So, when reading, please mentally substitute the correct verbiage stating what I meant to say in place of what I actually wrote.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 10:51 AM
Posted by Administrator
I have previously discussed the reality that people, especially lawyers, don't read contracts (lawyers read them for clients but, for normal day to day stuff, not for themselves). Yesterday, I read a contract...the whole thing.

The contract had to do with licensing a reservation system for our other business. The system would link up with that businesses' website and by clicking and checking boxes and entering credit card numbers, the customer would make a reservation without having to talk to anyone. The contract came to me by email and required "only" an electronic signature (which is exactly as binding as a signature scrawled out with a pen).

Today, the salesman called and I told him I wasn't going to sign. He asked why and I told him:
-Their system had me signing the contract personally (I had to think about it but I was asked to input my name and to check the "I agree" box...nothing about our company, so, it would be tough to argue I wasn't personally liable). If our company went broke over the system, that's one thing. But, I don't personally want to go broke over it (this is why the other company is a shield us from personal liability).
-Any disagreements would be suing...except if there was suing to be done it would have to be in San Francisco, California.
(These "venue" provisions are common and, unless you've got the big bucks, it is awfully burdensome to fight it out in a courtroom 3,000 miles away. I have a venue story about my daughter's apartment lease at FSU but I'm waiting until the end of Summer to tell it.)
-The salesman told me the commission for their services would be added to the price of the reservation. The contract said it would come out of our company's share......and that we couldn't raise my price to cover it.
-We were also required to pay a "service fee"....whatever and in whatever amount that was.
-We would have to name the reservation company as an "additional insured" on our insurance policy, so, if they got sued because of something related to us, our insurer would have to hired lawyers to defend them. This is a common provision but I don't like bothering my insurance company (stay below the radar and rates seem to go up more slowly) and I was already unhappy with other provisions I'd read.

I am not saying that I shouldn't have just held my nose and "signed"; that we ever would have had a problem; or that we didn't just walk away from a goldmine of business. I believe that lawyers mess up more business deals than we help. Conservatism doesn't make money. To make money: Put all your eggs in one basket and hang on for the ride.

On the phone, this morning, after I told the salesman "I'm not going to sign." (he didn't understand last night's email which said "Never read a contract you would like to sign."), he asked me why. I told him my objections. He said, more or less "A lot of the contract has to do with _______________ software and not with what you are buying."

I had specific objections which his company was not going to change the contract to meet....and, frankly, what he was selling was nothing so fantastic that I was going to spend hours negotiating changes.

Really, all the salesman could do was dance.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015, 10:58 AM
Posted by Administrator
Joseph Heller, who wrote CATCH 22, wrote another book that I don't remember the name of and a theme of that book was: don't wait more than 15 minutes for anyone. As I sit here, waiting, I thought I would write about waiting...and, I will...soon...wait for it. First, the CATCH 22.

"It's a Catch 22." is a not uncommon phrase but people who have read the book (a post WWII novel centered around a WWII bomber crew based in the Mediterranean, near Italy) are dying off. Yosarian(?) was a tail gunner(?...hey, I read this more than 40 years ago) who everyone seemed to agree was insane. Bomber crewmen rarely made it to the end of their tours and Yosarian's tour, based on the number of missions he had to fly, kept increasing and it was increasingly clear that he would never live to see the end of it....because there would be no end. Of course, he would be discharged if he were determined insane and all he had to do to be determined insane was to ask the base doctor....but, HIS asking the base doctor was the ONLY way.

The problem was that asking the base doctor to determine that he was insane was proof positive that he was sane. And this was....some sort of Army-AirCorps regulation numbered.... "Catch 22".

To get it, you have to ask for it. But, once you ask for it, you can't have it.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 04:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
They say that the people in the world who live the longest live in the mountains of Georgia.....not the one with Atlanta and Stone Mountain, the other one that was part of the USSR. And, they say that the reason elder Georgians live so long is because Georgians do not dwell on the past; they do not agonize over what might have been; they move one.

Today, the City of West Palm Beach installed another one of its "Bike Share" credit-card-operated-bike-rental-racks. This one....a few feet from the front door of our other business where we rented bicycles. I say "rented" because it is a reference to the past. Last night, I came here with a $19.95 per day plus $.59 per mile U-Haul rent-a-van and moved every bike I wouldn't want to ride home to the motorcycle trailer that sits behind my house. (Want a good bike cheap?) I have long been a lover of old sayings and "You can't fight City Hall" fit awfully well, here.

Being a Capitalist (except as it pertains to socializing health care...can you say "Medicare"), it irks me to have the City government compete with me. Or, since the past is the past, I should say it "irked" me and remember to no longer be irked.

Our next-door-neighbor said "You're a lawyer....sue them." "Don't I have better things to do than sue the City over bicycle renting?", I thought. I was in the middle of a fight with my daughter's landlord in Tallahassee over whether a small dent in a freezer door meant they were entitled to charge her (really, me) for....a new freezer door. I am also in the middle of several fights with several lawyers over issues like: Why don't you do the proposed Order you said you would do? .....and Why would you prepare a deed for property you knew your client didn't own?

Looking to the future........we've got more space. A few bikes left and some scooters and the rest is empty floor and desks and chairs. Assuming my landlord (who I like) and I/we can come to an agreement about rent, we'll stay; rent the occasional+ scooter, practice law, walk the 4 blocks to the Courthouse, and watch the City's bikes go by.

Don't misunderstand........I think we have been done wrong. But, I am old and it is not the first time.

+Today's GOOD NEWS? First time I spelled the word occasional correctly on the first try. No more looking back at all the times I messed it up.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 04:46 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am always trying to move into the new millennium and to bring my website there with me. It is 2015....I should have made it there by now. But, it continues to go....not so well. My website is horrible, but, on the other hand, it is horrible small-scale and so many lawyer websites I come across are horrible large-scale.

What should a lawyer website be? A place to find an address and phone number; maybe a picture of the man or woman who wants you to hire them; maybe a recitation that they have a law degree from somewhere in the English speaking world; maybe some indication of how long they have been rattling around the courthouse they go to most. Too many lawyer websites are too advertisey (not really a word) or salesy (again, not a word) for my tastes. (35 years ago, I sold, maybe I am more sensitive to salesiness than most.)

My crappy website is, at least, MY crappy website. It lets me tell people: "If you forget my email address, just stick my name into google." Need my phone number? You don't even have to put on reading glasses.

In the end, that's enough. And, if it isn't, there are hundreds of blog entries that have been read by thousands of people (or, maybe, the same person thousands of times).......the counter keeps resetting so the number on the left is only a small fraction.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 05:27 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today, I spent 6 hours in mediation at the He Man Woman Haters Club's Boca Clubhouse. Though the place bills itself as a men's only family law firm, I spent a large chunk of my childhood watching THE LITTLE RASCALS (aka SPANKY AND OUR GANG), a black & white kid's TV comedy from the 40s and 50s and the kids had a club called the HE MAN WOMAN HATERS CLUB and this was that.

I have been representing clients at mediations for the past 20 years (before then, mediation didn't exist) and this was the first time I had a mediation where the other party's lawyer never introduced himself or stood, for a moment, in the conference room my client and I were in. Around 1:30PM, a few hours into the mediation, my client said she saw the father of her child walk in with bags full of what she was sure was lunch. The mediator denied they served themselves lunch, but.... So, they had lunch in another room while we sat.

Now I admit that I can be mean (I admit this because people have told me that I can be mean). But, I am mean....only when it is necessary to be parties on the other side of the case. I am not rude to lawyers or parties-on-the-other-side whom I have never met; I wouldn't leave people stewing while I ate lunch and I wouldn't participate in a law firm that would only represent men (or women).

I would concede that the men's only thing was merely a marketing gimmick directed at
men who feel they've been unfairly wronged by feminine wiles if my female client and I hadn't been treated the way we were. But, we were. So, I've got to figure the law firm really does hate women.....or, at least, they want to put up a front that they do.


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Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 10:19 AM
Posted by Administrator
I have avoided writing about lawyer reviews because I have never looked at mine. Are they from happy clients? Unhappy clients? The party on the other side of the case masquerading as a client...and not happy that I was not-so-nice to them? I spoke to a divorce lawyer the other day about reviews and he said "Clients complain I overcharge."...and, he is one of the few lawyers in town who doesn't. (At least, that is his reputation and I believe it.)

I hired a lawyer in Tallahassee for my kid's speeding ticket (38 in a 35.....really?). He got the ticket dismissed. I thanked him (by email) and he asked me to write a review on AVVO, a lawyer referral site. I did.

AVVO has been trying to take over lawyer advertising for several years. They are the first result when you google most lawyers by name. (Not me...I've had a website and a blog for a long time so my "organic" results are high). They publish "reviews" and "ratings" and show you advertising for other lawyers when you go to their site to look FOR SOMEONE ELSE. For example, if you ask AVVO about lawyer Jane Smith, as you look at her profile, advertising for another lawyer in Smith's field will pop up. Usually, someone with a higher rating than Smith.

A few years back, when AVVO was young, I was looking for someone in North Florida to answer an esoteric legal question I had and I found their phone number on AVVO. This lawyer had a fantastic rating and I complimented him. He laughed and said "I ask everyone I know to give me a good rating."

I'm not saying lawyer ratings are bad. A company called Martindale-Hubbel has been rating lawyers for decades. Their system (unless they have changed it) is to randomly send lawyers the names of other lawyers to rate. Problem was, there are lots of lawyers and, unless someone on the list was someone you'd run into, how could you rate them? I rarely knew a name on their list, so I threw their survey in the garbage.

I may be saying that lawyer ratings are not that helpful. Was the lawyer nice or was she/he effective? I'll pick "effective" but I likely won't trouble myself to write a good review unless he/she is "nice". (And, of course, if you are selling a house or writing a will, any lawyer can get you a good result, so "nice" is paramount, but, if you are going to court, "effective" beats "nice".) Did the lawyer coddle me and do things that I could have done myself.......and then charge me through the nose for doing them?
Was the result a good result.......or did the lawyer just tell me it was good......or not know him/herself whether or not it was good? Was the lawyer more than a shoulder to cry on?

And, I'm not saying I don't chase ratings....but, I don't chase lawyer ratings. In our other business, because it is not a "profession", I encourage people to rate our service. Yesterday, I saw that a competitor (admittedly in business 4X as long as we have been) had 700 excellent ratings to our 59. My wife said "They have more customers than we do, have been in business for 15 years and email people to remind them to review them."

Still, on behalf of the other business, I felt unloved.
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Saturday, May 9, 2015, 11:49 AM
Posted by Administrator
Most of law revolves around human nature: greed, kindness, feelings of superiority, brilliance, stupidity, good, evil. With this in mind (and, with thanks to Dave, who invented Top Ten Lists and who will be going off the air in a few days) are the Top Ten Things I Learned From The Scooter-Rental Business:

10. There is at least one of our renters (I met him, yesterday) who believes that it is legal to let an 11 year old boy drive a motor vehicle with a license plate on the street..even after we demanded the renter's driver license and the renter signed a contract that specifically said they weren't allowed to let anyone else drive. (At least this kid didn't wreck the scooter....a 15 year old, whose father knew it was wrong, did wreck one.)

9. A lot more people tell you they damaged your scooter AFTER you put it in your contract that you'll charge them $100 if they leave without telling about their and you find the damage, later.

8. People who don't tell you about the damage they did, (almost) always:
-Wait until you are busy with other people to bring the scoter back, and,
-Walk away quickly as they tell you "That was great! We'll definitely be back."

7. Most 18 year olds are so appreciative that you'll rent to them that they take care not to wreck. (Along the same lines....flight crew (Flight Attendants, Commercial Pilots) are the best renters...they bring the equipment back on time and in better shape than it was when you rented it out to them.)

6. You go where you look. Every incident we've had (except one where I did not see the renter, afterwards, and could not question them about what happened) was people running into the curb while they were looking at the curb (Q: "What were you looking at?" A: "The curb." Q: "Why..... did you want to hit it?") or falling while they were looking at the ground. While, outside of riding/driving, you likely won't hit whatever you are looking at, in a metaphorical sense......I believe that you do always go where you look.

5. (As it was when I sold Volkswagens in the 70s....yes, there really was a decade that began in 1970), accountants, engineers and dentists read contracts. Lawyers don't read contracts(except for a staff lawyer from the local appeals court who read our rental contract and refused to sign it and made her whole family leave...."Who would sign this?", she said. "Nobody reads it.", I replied). But (and I've asked people) everyone knows what it says: Break the scooter---pay us, if you get hurt---you can't sue us. If you want to rent the scooter, you sign the contract. Life has risks......get used to it.

(Yes, I do see the irony between 1 and 5, above. In 1, I imply the renter read the contract and rely on this fact to criticize him.....and in 5, I say almost nobody reads the contract.)

4. People from New York City(and, I am from NY, near to the city...though I am a 1983 graduate of the University of Florida, School of Law) want to be loud and argue and get a deal. Otherwise, they are fine. I find it interesting that non-Parisian French people we do business with don't like people from Paris, but, Americans are fine with New Yorkers. To pushy New Yorkers I a fairly loud voice: "I'm from New York, where are we going to this?" It shuts them right up.

3. Adrenaline changes people. Motor scooter riding is a small adrenaline rush........30mph down the street, traffic racing by, leaning into the curves, the car heads your way but doesn't hit you. When you get back, it was the best time ever. It was great! You'll write a great review as soon as you get back to the hotel. Then, the adrenaline wears off......and, it was only a real-good-time....later, a good time. The review on Yelp or TripAdvisor can wait a while...'till we get back home.......when I have a chance...

2. People on vacation don't talk to a lot of locals. The hotel people are tired of tourists...they'll talk and be nice but there usually isn't much behind it but courtesy. I, on the other hand, really would like to know if there is some way to fly out of Eastern Europe and back to the US if you don't get that 6:30AM flight out of Budapest (apparently, no) or whether the Basque woman really believes she is Spanish ( or whether the Irish favor England over France (another: no). (Note: My conversations with foreigners usually gets my wife mad at me. She thinks they are humoring me. I do not and I can still recall the few non-tourist-industry locals we've spent time with in our travels:
-Moto Guzzi riding German on ferry on Lake Como.
-American married to Swiss who worked at UN on ferry on Lake Geneva.
-Dutch man who either tried to pick me up outside souvenir store in Amersterdam or who genuinely believed I looked like someone he'd met in Spain.
That's it.

1. Most people...from all over the world.... are honest, nice, careful and trusting.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 08:07 AM
Posted by Administrator
Honesty is certainly the best policy but, when it comes to life, it is not the only policy. Lying in court is wrong and bad and ruins the reputation of many a lawyer. Though there is a great temptation to tell a potential client what they want to hear ("You will definitely win this case....and win big!") to get yourself is wrong to give in to that temptation. It is wrong even though most people will be likely to hire the lawyer who told them what they wanted to hear. (32 years into this business, I have to concede there appears to be more money in lies than truth.)

But, sometimes lying is okay. Here are all of the instances that I can think of with a brief explanation of the justification:

1) In negotiation...for instance to settle a case (civil or criminal---by way of a plea agreement) is fine for the Defendant to lie about how much it is willing to pay to settle ("The most we'll pay is $10,000 or we're going to trial!") and it is okay for the Plaintiff to lie about how much he/she will take ("We need a million to settle the case and that is non-negotiatble.") The other side is not relying on truthfulness, here....both sides know the one will pay more and the other will take less. This is how the system works. What if the Defendant honestly said "We'll pay $500,000." and the Plaintiff replied with "Truthfully, we'll take $200,00."??? A system based on putting all of one's cards on the table would work....but, it isn't the system we have now. Axiom: If I know you are lying to me and you know I'm not relying on your is no sin to make up numbers ("30 days in the county jail is the most Bobby will agree to.") that you believe will help you achieve your goal of protecting your client's interests.

2) In required pleadings and papers...for instance...criminal defendants always plead "not guilty" at the beginning. It isn't intended as a statement of fact, it is intended as a procedural requirement (you've got to choose "guilty" or "not guilty" and choosing guilty seems premature/throws yourself at the mercy of the Court/excuses the prosecution from having to do its job). If you sue me for an unpaid debt, I respond in a paper called an Answer that I don't owe you anything. I'm not lying....I'm letting you know that I will require that you prove your case. How do I know that you are suing the correct Steve Duhl? Why should I rely on your arithmetic? You are suing me....we are not've got to prove up every element of your case against me. And, maybe you can't. Sorry...that's the way the system works. I am not allowed to mess with you just to delay the case, but, on the other hand....

3) If you wish to tell me the age of 60, wrinkled and about to teeter over and fall on the floor....that I should have been in the movies and that I don't look a day over 39....this would be an okay lie (and, I would believe you).

That's all I can think of...
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Sherri, the first of my 14 wives.... 
Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 02:20 PM
Posted by Administrator
....worked, for the year we were married while I was in Gainesville at law school, at the office of an Ear Nose and Throat guy named Perry Foote (he was, reportedly, Sally Fields' cousin). She was a certified audiologist and tested patient's ears....and, she did insurance billing. Sherri got a perfect, 4.0, GPA at Queens College and she was (and, likely, is) no idiot.

After a while, she began to tell me that insurance companies would send back claims forms she had filled out saying that there was an omission, a mistake, a problem and....that, really, there wasn't. I believed her and developed the following theory:

*Insurance companies reject a certain percentage of health insurance claims figuring that they will be lost and forgotten.*

If, for example, they reject of 20% of all claim forms and only half get re-submitted....they would save millions and millions of dollars. The forms that were re-submitted they get paid......the others? Out of sight=out of mind.

I am sure this does not apply to all insurance companies. But, what I am trying to get across here is the practical application of the old adage: THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE GREASE.

There is a super-excellent chance your claim will be paid if you make a stink if, at first, it isn't. There is little chance it will be paid if you don't keep after it.

Consistently, through the years, I have been the victim of, a witness of, and a listener to stories about insurers not paying. I have often told this story about the first of my 14 wives.

Hopefully, more than one person......quickly bored of this story and worried that I might have 13 other stories ready to tell...made some phone calls, wrote a letter and got their claim paid.
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No part of this is AN EMAIL TO MY DAUGHTER.... 
Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 10:19 AM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Notes: Nothing contained in this entry is intended to disparage QuestDiagnostics (we are sure it is just a mistake) or the Tallahassee allergist whose name I do not know (another mistake, we are sure). The subject is $1,500 in charges for allergy shots when the thought was it would be about $100 and WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT (it seems not everybody knows how to begin to fix things when there are billing disputes). Sorry the below may seem disjointed. Hope it helps, someone.

1) QuestDiagnostics

You cannot tell if Quest ever billed insurance. Their first bills said you needed to update insurance information. Even the "THIRD NOTICE" has info on "Update insurance information" including the website to go to and the
Customer Service phone number.

-Did you "Update insurance information"?
-If NO, I would do this on line NOW.
-If YES, I would call your insurance company and find out whether the bill was submitted.
-If the bill was not submitted (per insurance) and WRITE to Quest and tell them to submit the bill ("My health insurer, ________________, reports that you never submitted the bill for payment though I timely provided you with health insurance information. Note that your employees represented that your charges, after insurance, would be minimal. $620.14 is not minimal and I deny I owe you anything."
-If the bill was submitted, your insurance company (and there is more than one person who knows about his........THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT INSURANCE COMPANIES DO EVERY DAY), needs to explain why it wasn't paid.

My was never submitted to insurance either because you never provided updated information or because Quest screwed up or both.

II) The Allergist: Note: I did not look at the bill.

-Call. You want to talk to the billing department. "Your people told me that the charges, after insurance, would be minimal. $900 is not minimal. Is this a mistake?" SHUT UP. Remember, you want to put the burden on them to answer, completely, and if you talk, the burden isn't on them anymore.
-If the answer is "You owe $900."..........."Who is the decision maker on this?" SHUT UP "I need to speak to him/her."
-Get them on the phone, leave message........your line is the same as the previous one "Your people....".

If you can't resolve it ("I can get you $200 if that will take care of it....completely." If yes, I will tell you what letter to write to send with the check. If no: "Who is your supervisor.............." If no supervisor "That is unfortunately, I will go ahead and take this problem to the next level.")

Get the names of whomever you spoke and time and substance of conversation. (I sometimes just email myself. Title the email appropriately and you've got it forever.)

Remember WHOEVER TALKS FIRST LOSES. Silence is good for you....bad for the other party as it will make them uncomfortable.


Always begin by thinking that the over-billing party just made a mistake. So, you won't be confrontational....just surprised and confused. If (when) it turns out to be their intention to charge you what the bill mistake....remember it isn't the fault of the person you are speaking with; they aren't getting your money, they're getting a few bucks over minimum wage.

But, a large part of the job of an underling is to keep you from bothering their superior. Letting the person you are speaking with know that you are going to talk to their boss gives them the most motivation you can give them to satisfy you. If everyone they talk to ends up talking to the supervisor, there is no reason for them to have a job.

And, the supervisor has a supervisor and so do they. Eventually, it is the owner/doctor/corporate president. Good chance they won't speak to you but, on the other hand, they don't want to spend a day in court testifying about the reasonableness of their charges. Time for a lawsuit?

If you sue them, the burden is on you to prove your case. If they sue you, the burden is on them. On the other hand, by the time they sue you they'll have sent the case to collections and tried to ruin your credit. And, if you signed something saying you'd pay their attorney's fees if you didn't pay....the price of poker just shot through the roof.

Enjoy your day!

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Monday, April 13, 2015, 09:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am not a good cross examiner. If you are a witness at a hearing or trial and you see me get up and approach the podium, ready to cross examine you....don't be concerned. I can't question my way out of a paper bag. So, don't worry. Say whatever comes to will be fine. I promise. What I am going to write here is based totally on what other people....much better at cross examination than I am... have told me:

1) Don't get up. Don't start. You will gain nothing by cross examination, you will only crap up your case. So, when the judge tells you...after the direct examination is done....that it is time for your cross, say to him or her: "No. But thank you."
2) If you do get up to ask questions, remember: Don't ever ask questions you don't know the answer to....don't let yourself be surprised. You will crap up the case if you do.
3) If you do get up and ask questions....STOP. Sit down. Face facts: You are doing your client no good. You are crapping up the case.

So, ignoring the above, you've stood up and started asking questions you don't know the answer to and, since the idea QUIT WHILE YOU'RE AHEAD doesn't apply in the law business....your forge ahead. Why? What are you trying to accomplish?

I) To tell the story in your (the lawyer's) words, interrupted from time-to-time by the witness assuring you that you've got it right. Q: "So, you drove up in your car, right?" A: "Yes." Q: "And you walked into the house, right." Yes You start with easy "yesses", trying to get the witness used to saying "yes" and, when you believe they are used to saying "yes", you ask the payoff question: Q: "And, then you shot her, right?".

And, if you are very, very good, as good as Perry Mason was 50 years will get a "Yes".

II) To get the witness to answer questions quickly without thinking. Ask easy questions.....try to get the answers to come fast under the dual theories that a) It takes a moment of thought to come up with a lie and b) the first thing that pops into your head is probably the truth. Q: "So, you drove up in your car, right?" "And you walked in the front door?" "And you put the bread you bought in the pantry?" "And then you got a phone call from your mistress?" A: "Yes."

Remember the TV psychologist test where you are supposed to say the first thing that comes into your mind after he/she says a word? "Black"...."White". "Fat"...."Thin". "Tara"...."Girlfriend". "Gun"...."Mine". Which is why we don't EVER say the first thing that comes into our mind. But, put somebody on the witness stand in a courtroom and ask the right questions and....maybe you'll get lucky.

Cross examination is usually stressful for the witness (and the lawyer) seems that the quicker he/she answers the questions, the sooner he/she will get to leave (and walk away from the stress of the situation). The desire to answer quickly sometimes leads to the reality that the witness is answering stupidly. (Sometimes not.)

But, really....thinking back and considering how your cross examination actually went, you realize you should have left well enough alone and never gotten up. This is how it should have gone: The Judge: "Your witness, Mr. Duhl." Me: "I don't need anything from this witness, your honor. But, isn't it time for our lunch break?"
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Friday, April 10, 2015, 04:52 PM
Posted by Administrator
It isn't that I have had writer's block, it's just that I haven't thought of anything to write about. This will change by Sunday at 5:00PM. which I mean Monday night a little before 10:00PM.
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THE BROWN COW (2nd attempt....1st was better) 
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 02:08 PM
Posted by Administrator
I remember, I think, the law-school-contracts-class example of no "meeting of the minds". There is no enforceable agreement... if minds on each side don't meet. Here goes:

I am a cow farmer. We are on one side of my fence and a passel of my cows is on the other. You say to me "I want to buy the brown and white cow.", I tell you "$500" and we shake hands on the deal. The next day, you come back with your cow hauler and I lead up the cow I thought you wanted: brown with white spots. You say "I told you I wanted the brown and white cow...the one that was white with brown spots." Obviously, white cows with brown spots are worth much more than $500 so I am not willing to give you the cow you thought you'd bought....I'm only willing to give you the cow I thought you'd bought.

We don't have a contract because there was no meeting of the minds. If you paid, already, I give you your money back and that it that. Except that you really want to sue me and your lawyer finds a way (but, that is another story).

Two weeks ago, I thought I had hired someone to do four small repair jobs at my house. "All three spots and cut the shingles for $450?", I asked. "Yes."

But, after the "workers" came and went, I found only 1/2 of the work had been done. I called the man I'd made the deal with and, he said that he had never agreed to do 1/2 of the work I thought I had hired him for.

By the miracle of modern law (as passed down from the old days in England....and referred to as "English Common Law".....) he is entitled to the reasonable value of what he did since we never had a contract and, therefore, we never really agreed on a price. Could the reasonable value of the two jobs be more than what (I thought) we'd agreed to for the 4 jobs? Sure. Neither side gets "the benefit of the bargain" if there is no bargain (where "bargain" is used to mean enforceable agreement/contract).

"Nothing in writing?", you may ask. Of course not. That would make too much sense.

....and, I'd have nothing to write about. (Also, at the time I thought we'd made a deal....we were standing on my roof.)
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this is a test.............. 
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 02:07 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yesterday's entry, THE BROWN COW, never "published". This sophisticated test is designed to track down the problem. I will now click on "publish", below, and see what happens. Wish me luck.
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Sunday, March 1, 2015, 11:10 AM
Posted by Administrator
A bumbler is someone who speaks in a halting manner or who moves and proceeds clumsily. (From the internet: THE FREE DICTIONARY.) Sometimes, someone in need of a lawyer needs the man or woman who is smooth as silk, who has all the facts and law at their fingertips, and who is masterful in the courtroom.

Sometimes, you need the bumbler. (The bumbler is not necessarily clueless, nor does he/she lack knowledge or skill......they just are not pretty to watch.)

A friend of mine, years ago, needed to prove to an Immigration Judge that...despite his failure to follow the actual rules and timetables for being granted asylum in the U.S....he should be granted asylum, anyway, because he really WOULD be killed if he returned to his home (South American) country. This was a few years ago and the media frequently ran stories about fake asylum claims, lawyers who promoted false claims, and, generally abuse of claims for asylum by prospective immigrants who really wanted to be here to make money and not because...

...they had a reasonable fear of or had actually suffered persecution due to race, religion, politics, nationality or association with a social group which their home government was unable to stop or which was actually at the instance of their home government. You don't get asylum because you are worried about street crime in the suburbs of Tegucigalpa, do if you were in the Columbian military working on a US funded project and narcos shot you full of holes and left you dying in the street because you dropped defoliant on coca fields.

Anyway, knowing nothing about Immigration, my only job was to help my friend find a lawyer. We settled on a (now deceased) Canadian (you don't have to be a member of the Florida Bar to practice in Immigration Court...he was a member of the NY Bar) with an office in Palm Beach Gardens who had limited (read as "no") experience in asylum claims. He, eventually, filed the papers.

My theory was that every Miami Immigration lawyer (that's where the local Immigration Court is located) who regularly did asylum cases would be viewed by the Immigration Judge (yes, there are Immigration Judges...who are most certainly NOT regular Federal Judges) as very possibly pushing a trumped up/made up case. And, on the other hand, a lawyer from 60 miles North who the Judge had never seen before in court was probably pursuing the case because he thought there was something to it. So, the mere fact that the lawyer was clueless would make the case more believable.

For some reason I never understood, it was my job to drive the family (kids were part of this, too, and the estranged spouse who flew in each time from LA) to Miami and sit quietly in the visitor's section behind counsel table where my friend sat with the lawyer. And, the first three times we went, the lawyer had failed to file a paper or failed to have the family go to the INS with some application or was otherwise desperately unprepared. The Judge would lecture the lawyer, briefly, express disappointment that he was clueless and reset the case.

Finally, the fourth time was the charm. I wasn't in the courtroom but, after half an hour, everyone came out smiling. "The Judge said to (the Homeland Security---government lawyer), "You're not going to like the smell of this, but I'm going to grant the application.""

And, that was that (at least for friend now needed more fingerprints and investigations and paperwork before the papers arrived 8 mos. later).

Today, a client of mine called me asking about a tax lawyer for an IRS audit. I said, more or less, this: 'I don't know much about the IRS but I think if you walk in there with a tax lawyer they will think it's a big case and you've got stuff to hide. You should hire an Enrolled Agent (an accountant who is qualified to practice before the IRS). The IRS people would probably be more likely to think that you just can't get all your receipts together........and not that you are a big-time tax cheat.' (I also reminded the caller that there is no Federal account/client privilege so....if she was worried that she had committed a crime, she should hire a lawyer. The lawyer could hire an accountant to work for the lawyer and the Federal attorney-client priviledge would (likely) apply to the accountant.)

I didn't tell her that it might be best if the Enrolled Agent she hired seemed like a bumbler.

But, that would probably be good.
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Saturday, February 28, 2015, 04:58 PM
Posted by Administrator
I also do my best to avoid making money in each of my day jobs (... I am only kidding about the money thing). To contact me so that we can meet-up and consult with each other, call or email. '

Note: Please don't email me asking me to email you back with legal advice (and I won't email you asking you for instructions on how I can perform that brain surgery I need on myself, at home while drinking a beer.....again, this is intended as humor: if I was going to do brain surgery on myself, obviously I'd be drinking something much stronger than beer).
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Thursday, February 26, 2015, 12:56 PM
Posted by Administrator
It is super-great to have a lawyer with lots of energy except that you are paying $300+ per hour for him or her to expend that energy. How about a lazy lawyer? A lawyer who only does what is absolutely necessary...who let's things fall into place around him/her...who guesses the other side's next move (or lack of a move) and realizes that the move won't be worth paying attention to? It depends.

In addition to my (self-declared) records for shortest civil jury trial (trial started at 9:30am with a jury verdict before lunch) and shortest jury deliberation in a criminal case (I hadn't reached the water fountain and they were back with a verdict....unfortunately, it was a "guilty"), I believe I hold the record for least-time-spent-defending-wrongful-death-jury-trial. I was defending a local tire store (which had not exactly bothered to get liability insurance) in an old tire blew...van wrecked....driver died civil case.

The co-defendant was the tire manufacture. Really, (especially since lawyers rarely take cases where there is no insurance) my tire store client was made a defendant only because the plaintiff wanted to the case to be in Palm Beach County. There wasn't much evidence that the dead person had work done at my client's store but, as in real estate: location-location-location.

There was no way we were going to get out of the case before trial. The Plaintiff would have come up with some evidence of a relation between the dead guy and the tire store (the allegation in the Complaint was that they had patched the tire a few months before the accident). Once the trial began, though, it was my educated guess that the tire store wouldn't be mentioned unless I was at the trial....out of sigh=-out of mind. All the Plaintiff wanted out of the tire store was to have a Palm Beach County defendant and, the moment the trial started (in downtown West Palm Beach), they had that.

I went in for the start of the trial and told the judge, before jury selection began, that I'd see him again at the close of the Plaintiff's case. For the next few days, I stopped in from time-to-time and sat in back and watched the goings-on for a few minutes. I made sure that I was in the courtroom when the Plaintiff rested its case and (as the other lawyers began to recollect who I was) I walked up to the podium and said, more or less, exactly this:

"Judge, Steve Duhl here for Defendant _____________ Tire Store. I haven't been here much but I'm willing to bet that nobody has mentioned my client so I move for a directed verdict in its favor on the grounds that nothing regarding them has been proven." The judge granted my motion.

I found out later that the tire company (whose lawyer had promised me that they would certainly win---it was an old tire) lost millions.

My client was much less dissatisfied with the amount of my bill than they would have been had I done what I was probably supposed to do----------------sit in court.

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Monday, February 23, 2015, 09:18 PM
Posted by Administrator
Luckily, the ultimate decision on whether or not to take a settlement offer belongs to the client. There is an actual ethical RULE that says that lawyers have to inform clients of all settlement offers and it applies to everything from money in injury cases to plea offers made by the State to criminal defendants.

Your client can always settle their case: just take whatever the other side is offering. And, the other side can ALWAYS settle their case: just take what you are offering. Sometimes, one of the parties does cave in and take a deal their lawyer never would have imagined they'd take....usually because they find out they have to give up documents or information that will cause them even more trouble. Paying a few extra dollars in child support sure beats explaining to the IRS why you've been doing business in cash and not paying taxes for the last 10 years.

But, last week, at 11:30 in the morning, after a couple of hours of (oral-contract-for-transfer-of-land) trial and as both sides headed to the door after the judge offered the other lawyer....who had a painful, swollen salivary gland, a continuance for a couple of days....the judge said to all of us, lawyers and litigants,"Keep in mind: A bad settlement is better than a good trial." This made me think: Don't you win big in a "good trial" and give up a lot with "a bad settlement"?

When we returned two days later to finish the trial, the lawyer's salivary gland had shrunken some and, before we got started, he said to me, more or less: "We've got an offer for you to settle the case and it's pretty much you proposed to us a little while back."

And, after a half hour of negotiations.....and, after telling the bailiff to tell the judge we needed a few minutes before he came out and re-started the trial....we had a deal. My client, rationalizing taking this deal in a trial that had been (for at least the couple of hours we had in) going quite well, said to me "A bad settlement is better than a good trial."

And, as well as the trial seemed to be going, if he'd lost, he would have lost big. And, if he'd won, he wouldn't have won that much. So, for him, at least...a bad settlement may have been better than a good trial. And, really, the settlement (which was, more or less, what we had proposed before the trial), wasn't bad at all.

I'm glad that I didn't have to decide whether to take it. And, I'm sure the judge will keep on using his line.
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My craigslist friend, 702-674-2607 
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 12:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
I got a text from my (new) Craigslist friend, yesterday evening after I posted my Vespa for sale. This is what he/she said:

"I'm interested in your Bike and I'm okay with the asking price. Would love to go ahead with the deal right away because this meets my perfect search for time now consider me a favourite(sic) buyer and if possible withdraw the posting from the site immediately so that I can rest assured that it is all mine, being now, I'm on duty now, so coming to your residence for inspection won't be possible so you have to assure me that it in condition described. Like I said earlier, I'm very busy with my job, as I work as a geophysical investigator and am currently in the mountain until March 22nd, so I will be paying you on line via my PayPal account which is attached to my bank account because it is the only form of payment that I have access to right now and also because of its good security nature."

My new friend, who writes that his/her name is "Mason" goes on to ask me for my PayPal information, address for pickup and my phone number. Then, he writes...

"not be responsible for the shipping as the shipping agent will be coming over to your address after I have made the payment and you have received"

I am not going to sell to Mason....and not because this is a scam or because I don't want to do business with a "geophysical investigator" ...I am just concerned that the Vespa is not a good way to get around for someone who is "in a mountain".

I tried to get the news to Mason, but, when I called 702-674-2607, a woman's voice said that I had reached a "texting only number". I was very disappointed that Mason didn't answer.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 08:35 AM
Posted by Administrator
I thought that, maybe, I'd get the website redone but it doesn't look like it is happening. Really, I don't think it matters much. When I decided the internet was not a passing fad, I put up a website and discovered that if you input my name.....the results were all for Chicago-radio-talk-show-host Steve Dahl. I had the blog installed because, I'd heard, search engines like "new content". After a few months, googling my name led to (though, you also get Steve Dahl).

Websites can do two things (likely, more....but I can, right now, only think of two): 1) Give to get in touch...what we do, and, 2) Flash and dance and impress with fancy content and graphics. The flash and dance is the website designers...not the website owners. If you want to meet the website've got come in or, at least, call.

In other words, if you are a sucker for a fancy website: mine ain't it. But, on the other hand, if you are looking for a phone number and a picture of who you should be looking for when you come for an appointment: I've hit the nail on the head.

My real advertising? I've got two(2) magnetic signs that say DIVORCE LAWYER Steven R. Duhl since way back in 1983 on my Vespa (likely, Vespa kept building motor scooters with metal bodies exactly so people like me could put magnetic signs on them). In a world full of lawyer TV ads, billboards, taxi-cab toppers, back-of-bus signs, buses "wrapped" with lawyer ads.....and flash and dance websites.....aren't two magnetic signs on a green motor scooter enough? (Really, one sign would have been enough....two are overkill.)

The one important change we would have made with a new website....we haven't had a FAX machine since around 2010. Scan and email, please. After all, the internet did, finally, catch on.
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Thursday, January 22, 2015, 11:52 AM
Posted by Administrator
A few years ago, NPR had a piece (it was on the Ira Glass story show, the name of which I don't recall) about tipping servers. The producer had two waitresses, one was told to act happy, friendly and volunteer suggestions and be willing to talk to the diners. The other was instructed to act aloof and standoffish but to be consistently helpful when asked for help....but not to volunteer. After a service, the two switched rolls.

The aloof waitress (whichever it was at the time) got much bigger tips.

The producer's theory was that the happy waitress didn't need a big tip to put her in a good mood but that the other waitress did. "Maybe if we over-tip, she'll get over the funk she's in.", the diners were supposed to have thought.

Today, we brought my wife's car in for service at a local, huge car dealership. I had to get to work and walked into the "Advisor's" office without invitation....but, with an "excuse me" to tell him about a brake problem------so that I could get going. When I reported back to my wife (who was watching the Patriot's Coach deny knowledge of underinflated footballs on the service department's TV---next to the "free" coffee and bagels), I said "I don't think he likes me."

My wife assured me that, really, nobody liked me but then said "He acts that way all the time." Then, she said, "They all do, here." ...and, that reminded me of the UNHAPPY WAITRESS.

The "Service Advisor's" job is to sell those (unnecessary?) $750 30,000 miles services and other mechanic work (the need for which is questionable) at exorbitant (dealership prices). If they are in a bad mood, it's harder to say "no". You want to do whatever it is that you can to try to make them happy....and, helping them rake in money for the dealership might do the trick!

I've worked in the car business and I have no problem saying "no" to "Service Advisors"........but, I probably do over-tip the unhappy server.

I just want servers to be happy. So, I do what I can.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 10:35 PM
Posted by Administrator
I've written about this before, but my friend, Teri....who says she's read the blog....told me she didn't remember. So, here goes.....

When your friend, "John", refers you to his lawyer and you call or walk in and say "John" referred me, you've created a problematic situation. The lawyer...who may or may not remember "John"...will believe that you trust her/him to do a good job and TO GIVE YOU A FAIR PRICE. In a world where prices are not clearly marked on tags hanging from the item you are about to buy, but, instead, made up out of thin don't want the person making up the price to believe that you trust them. I apologize for being cynical.

Nor do you want him/her to think that you trust them to do a good job. Almost all lawyers will do their absolute best....but, it pays to be a little cynical. I apologize for suggesting this.

So, go to the lawyer "John" told you to go to but tell the lawyer that you picked him/her randomly by closing your eyes and poking a spot in the Yellow Pages. Oh, I forgot, the Yellow Pages doesn't exist, anymore. So... by going to the third lawyer down from the top on the third page of google results. This way, she/he has to think hard about a fair price and earn your trust by hard work and diligence.

I hired a plumber this way a few months ago. "I found you on the internet,' I said. Great job. Great price. I would refer a friend to this plumber......and then tell them not to use my name.

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Monday, December 15, 2014, 06:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
Let me be clear: I didn't libel anybody. The worst thing I said was that my client said he was yelled at. I yell at people most days (but this relates to my being a pedestrian walking in downtown West Palm Beach where drivers....a very few of them....think pedestrians are a nuisance in their effort to race through town). So, I don't see how saying someone yelled is libelous. But, what do I know?

Years ago, when I was young (30?), I represented the plaintiff in a lawsuit against a credit reporting agency that, she said, had libeled her (libel being the in-print version of slander) by publishing false information about her credit. The defendant's lawyer, a youngster in a VERY big firm, took her deposition in a large, high office building in Miami. The lawyer asked hundreds of questions over the course of several hours and...nothing interesting came of it. But, suddenly, the lawyer asked who had told all of these people....who, because of the false credit information thought less of her causing her embarrassment and emotional suffering....about the credit report. The plaintiffs' father knew and her mother and her neighbors.......

"How did all these people find out about this?", the lawyer asked.
"I told them.", my client answered.

The credit reporting agency certainly wasn't responsible for all these people client was.

As I said: I was young. We got a few thousand bucks.
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Sunday, November 30, 2014, 10:57 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today, the other business....which is selling, on Craigslist, an odd but fast bicycle for $699 that is built by a Hays, Kansas company that also produces light airplanes....received an offer of "$500 sight unseen". I hadn't seen the words "sight unseen" for a long time and I continue to be very interested in sales and selling-----because that is what makes the capitalist world go 'round----so, I asked the offeror what he/she was proposing.

Were they going to come with $500 and give it to me no matter what the condition of the bicycle? Were they going to trust me not to wait for the $500 to arrive and then say "I want more"....and take advantage of the reality that he/she had made a trip and probably didn't want to return home empty handed? Did we....who did not know each each other enough to do a "sight unseen" deal, or, was the offeror just a waste of time?

I replied to the offeror's email asking for information on what they were proposing (though I made it clear that $500 would not do). I have not received a reply (this is in keeping with my general impression that Craigslist offerors are looking for a cheap deal and have no interest in psychology or nuance or an exchange of ideas or anything much other than a cheap deal).

I thought that I might get an answer from the offeror that boiled down to: 'If you accepted the sight unseen deal, I would HAVE to buy and you would HAVE to sell." And, I thought, that if I get that reply, I would revisit, here, THE STOP SIGN QUESTION. Here it is:

Q. Do you have to stop at a STOP sign?
A. (most common) Yes.
Q. What happens if you don't stop?
A. (most common) You get a ticket.
Q. When was the last time you didn't stop at a STOP sign.
A. answers vary from "never" to "I never stop".
Q. When was the last time you got a ticket.
A. (always) Never.

So, you don't have to stop at a STOP sign....though it is possible you'll get a ticket if there is a policeperson watching and she/he is inclined to stop you and write you one.

You are also unlikely to get sued for ignoring a contract that you HAVE to abide by; for being late paying child support which you HAVE to pay on time; for putting up a business sign without a permit that you HAVE to get before putting upt he sign; and for a whole host of other things that you "HAVE TO DO" (it is also pretty safe to do things that you "CAN'T DO"). You can pretty much do or not do whatever you want unless someone takes the time and goes through the trouble of getting a court...or a make your life miserable because you aren't complying.

"But he HAS to pick up the kids every other weekend." No, he doesn't....not even if he made the deal to do it SIGHT UNSEEN.

Note: The world is a better place when people do what they SHOULD do; what they have obligated themselves to do; and avoid doing what it is bad to do. Nothing here is intended to suggest that we should all be a bunch of schmucks.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014, 10:22 AM
Posted by Administrator
Contracts exist to help enforce obligations and to define the parties' rights. Every contract I have ever seen has, I believe, been seriously deficient. Every contract I have ever written (though I don't write does happen....and I tend to write based on what issues I've seen disputed and what I've seen buyers and sellers sued over), I am sure, has in the opinion of the other side, been seriously deficient. My goal is to protect my client and their goal is, to a large extent, exactly the opposite.

If you are selling your business, I want to make sure that you will get paid and that you will not be sued. The contract I write will give the other side no right to complain if what you are selling isn't worth what they are paying; if the equipment doesn't work; if the state comes in and shuts them down the day after the purchase. The buyer wants to make sure that he/she never has to pay; that if anything breaks, burns, or get blown away in a tornado....the cost will be on my client, the seller; and that if someone stubs a toe on the counter, the business buyer will get their money back along with a ten percent premium for the earache they got listening to the injured person scream.

You get the idea.

People think there are forms for everything and that lawyers pull one off the computer and fill in the blank and they are done. But, garbage in/garbage out, so that would result only in garbage.

If I put every possibility into a contract ("and, if it rains on the day of closing then the closing shall be postponed until the next business day at which time all conditions of this Contract shall apply as if there were no delay") and the other side put every possibility into it ("and, if between now and the time of closing, any of the current activities of the business shall become prohibited by law or statute or ordinance or if there is a zoning change as to any property within 1,000 feet....") , the contract for the sale of your dry cleaning storefront will be 2,000 pages long and your attorney's fees bill will be a large multiple of the number of pages. If Microsoft is selling to Ronco (manufacturer, I believe, of the POPEIL POCKET FISHERMAN), a 2,000 page contract makes sense. For, a handshake and a few pages of verbiage (crossed fingers and a prayer) is probably the way to go. Also, put something together that hits the high points....put in dates for things to happen...say what it is you're selling and what you're not....disavow any promises you aren't making.

If you happen to be selling your business (whether "you" are Microsoft or the dry cleaner), remember:
-Unless you get paid up front, you'll never get all your money.
-Unless you get paid up front, the sale the end...become a a lawsuit.
-Whether your contract is 2 pages or 2,000 pages long.....something is bound to be left out....
-...or, at least, some lawyer will tell you something was.

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Monday, November 17, 2014, 12:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
This can be applied, generally, to getting all kinds of people to call you back (though it does not apply to the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority....which I have never been able to get to call me back).

1) Call principal. Leave message.
2) After a few hours, call principal again. Make sure this message includes "I phoned a couple of hours ago and didn't receive a call back." or, something similar.
3) The next morning....tell person who answers "I've left two messages for the principal and he/she hasn't phoned me back. Who at the school board should I ask for? Also, what is your name?" or, something similar.

Now you have created a situation where the principal has been way of your messages... that he/she is not doing an important part of their job: keeping their superior from being bothers AND you have ensured that the principal will get your message because you have receptionist's name and he/she knows that they will be blamed if there is trouble from above. (No boss wants to be bothered because their subordinate didn't return a phone call. You've got to make sure you let your target know that you know this. And, once you take the receptionist's name....they know they will get the blame if they don't force the message into your target's hand.)

4) If you still don't get the call (you will) the school board and harass them. (First call: "Who is in charge of the XYZ school?" Get a name....let's say: Ms. Jones. Next call: "I'd like to speak to Ms. Jones." This way, the receptionist has to believe you are not calling not know who you want to talk already know you want to speak to Ms. Jones. No answer: repeat 1-3, above.

Oh, also, if you are calling about a bullying sure to use the word "bullying" in the conversation...a lot ("This call is about bullying." "I have a bullying issue with my child." "I'd like to make sure I understand your policy on bullying before I take this to the next level.") Schools are terrified that there will be trouble if they ignore bullys, bullying, or anything else that is described by a word containing two "l"s with a y at the end.

Thank the media.
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Monday, November 3, 2014, 01:12 PM
Posted by Administrator
Rule #1 of buying/selling/negotiating/reaching agreement/making a deal: TALK TO THE DECISION MAKER. (Thank you, Ralph, Burroughs Corporation computer sales school, Southfield, Michigan, 1976.)

So, the threshold question always is: Who is the decision maker?
If you ignore this question or if you ignore the answer, almost certainly you are wasting your time and energy.

It is also helpful not to antagonize the decision-maker. So, it always surprises me when salespeople come into our other business and ask my wife (who is the owner and in charge of all marketing related decisions) if they can speak with the owner. They assume it is not a woman and she (after their implied insult) assumes they are not worth doing business with.

Today, a man with an English accent who wore a bleached-white pullover shirt with a very colorful "GOOGLE" emblem over his left breast, came in to sell the other business something that gave smart phone users a virtual tour of what is inside the door. I guess the intention is to make potential consumers more comfortable about visiting----they'll already know what's inside and will be confident that there are no monsters waiting to attack, weights rigged to fall on their heads, or thinly disguised trap doors designed for customers to fall through. Though these things are uncommon in most commercial establishments.....these days, you never know.

The GOOGLE-man asked my wife whether she was "one of the bosses". I hid in back. She said "Yes." and he did his pitch. When he was abouto leave, I stupidly walked out front to ask "How much is it?"... I promise that I had no interest in anything other than what GOOGLE was up to now to enhance their bottom line.

Despite my protests of: "I'm not the decision maker." "It is totally up to my wife." and "No, don't send me a copy of your email to her."....he gave me an annoying long and uninteresting sales pitch and demonstrated what a local French restaurant had as it's virtual tour. (Empty tables and chairs...not a sole in sight. It made me wonder about the food---and not in a positive way.)

So, the other business will never buy this product from GOOGLE and not just because we can't imagine that people can't just look through our giant front window (and see there are no monsters). We just wouldn't buy from anyone who can't identify the decision maker and then make it out the door without antagonizing them.

This morning, I had an argument with an Assistant State Attorney about a not-significant traffic case because she didn't understand that people with epilepsy can't get a driver license (and, also, we don't want them to) and (I believe) she lied to me about what he applicable law was (until May of this year, you didn't need a driver license to ride a gasoline powered bicycle with a tiny engine and pedals). But, on the other hand, she is the decision maker and there are rules to follow (see above). She said to me "What do you want to do with the case, today?" I said "Set it in a couple of weeks and not for a Monday morning."

Unlike the man from Google.....I know that when it is time to leave: it is time to leave.

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I am a pretty decent speller.... 
Monday, October 27, 2014, 07:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
and, grammatically, I am not so bad. Punctuation? I'd give myself a "B".

But, it is hard to proof-read your own stuff. So, things go unnoticed. Sometimes, I clean it up when I see a mistake and, sometimes... not so much. I trust you, the reader, to read it as if everything were spelled correctly, correctly worded, and punctuated as YOU were taught to punctuate in the 9th grade (in 9th grade, I was sitting in the back, head down on the desk, trying to get some shut-eye...).
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Sunday, October 26, 2014, 08:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
Arthur, who would be my son-in-law if......oh, never mind. Arthur called to ask me what the warranty was on my pool pump (purchased a couple of months ago) because he had a friend who, I guess, had a recently-purchased broken pool pump. I told him I didn't know and he told me that he was very disappointed in me and how could I NOT know? What if it broke?

There are a couple of easy answers:
1) I don't have stuff break on me much.
2) If the pump broke any time soon, I'd bring it back to the seller and I figure he'd give me a new one.

Of course, if he didn't give me a pump, I could sue him. There are no warranty police who would go to the pump guy and put him in warranty jail until he handed me a pump. So, the pump guy's honesty and interest in his reputation is more important than a warranty. Would it be worth suing over a $150 pool pump?

When it comes to warranties, there are a couple of harder answers, as well:
1) Everything you buy has a warranty that it will be free of manufacturers defects....forever....that it will work as well as others of its type ("merchantability"---that it would pass without objection in the trade)....and, if the seller knew what you were going to do with it (for example, pump a 25,000 gallon pool) that it would be fit to do that particular job.
2) When you buy something, the seller tries to LIMIT the warranties. Look at the warranty paperwork you got with your new TV, it says you've got a LIMITED WARRANTY. The TV maker isn't giving you a WARRANTY IT DIDN'T HAVE TO GIVE YOU....its LIMITING the WARRANTIES THE LAW GIVES YOU. "Limited Warranties" do not GIVE....they TAKE AWAY (rights you would otherwise have).

Warranties come by law from manufacturers and SELLERS. How these warranties get limited so that you can't walk into the pool pump seller with a 2 decade old pump and say "This burned out because it was wired improperly" is a question I may one day address, but, in the meantime, if you show up with a broken pump after a year, I figure the pool pump guy will be chasing you out with a 2X4.

Legally, he'll probably be wrong (he didn't do anything to limit the warranty), but, are you going to sue him about a $150 pump.
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Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 11:08 AM
Posted by Administrator
At the other business, we have people sign our contract every day and rarely does anyone read it. One person did, she was a staff lawyer at the local Court of Appeals and she came with her family to rent scooters. She spent half an hour reading the her husband and daughters stood impatiently nearby, ready to ride. Then, she started peppering me with questions about insurance. One of them: "Will my car insurance cover this?" "Probably not.", I said "But, I don't know." (Really, I do know that it won't but there is a lawyer voice in me, sometimes, reminding me to be non-committal so what I say won't be used against me, later...and, also, maybe I'm wrong.). She called her car insurance company!

As she dragged her family kicking and screaming out the door, she said "Who would sign that?" She did not say this meanly....she just did not understand. "Nobody really reads it.", I said "People just want to rent scooters."

When people ask me what the contract says, I say, more or less: "You wreck the scooter you pay for it. You get hurt, you can't sue us. You damage something with the scooter, you pay." Universally, the response is "Of course." If renters didn't have to sign a contract that provides for what ours provides for, renting scooters wouldn't work. To find an insurer to take all the risk would make scooter renting too expensive. And, let's face it, there is risk in life. If you don't accept some risk, you will have a boring life. (Note: Really, we have very, very few scooter-incidents but, tomorrow, that could change.)

Years ago (in the '70's!), I sold cars. Accountants would read the Sales Agreement before they would engineers and dentists. Lawyers wouldn't....they would just sign. At the time, I thought it was because lawyers knew they could get out of anything. Later, after becoming one, I found out: lawyers know if they want to buy the car, they've got to sign the contract.....and every car dealer's contract is about the same.

Still, YOU SHOULD READ CONTRACTS. (But, have you ever?)
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Monday, September 29, 2014, 11:19 AM
Posted by Administrator
A few days ago, I received mail from abroad. The Justice Department of the Netherlands wrote me to tell me that I had been speeding on their highway and that I owed them around $200.00. Avis wrote to me telling me that they were going to charge me 35.50E (about $41) for telling the Netherlands who they had rented my rental to and Avis enclosed another letter from the Netherlands....this one was going to cost around $40. Apparently, in the letter Avis enclosed, I wasn't even going very fast.

I looked on the Internet for alternatives to the Dutch proposal that:
1) I send money in what appeared to be a bank-to-bank transfer, or,
2) That I appeal to them...not to a court but to a prosecutor.

The Internet told me:
a) All the locals know about the Dutch system of big speed detection boxes with cameras that dot their highway system. The locals slow for them and the tourists zoom on by.
b) If I don't pay: the fine will be increased; I could be stopped if I tried to enter the Netherlands, again; I could be stopped if I tried to enter another EU country.
c) A "Court Warrants Officer" from GB wrote in to say that he once executed a Dutch Failure-To-Pay Warrant in Britain....even through Britain was not a party to a lot of the EU shenanigans (GB still uses the Pound.....not the Euro).

All of this seemed very unfair (to me, especially....I don't really accept that I sped in Europe and I certainly didn't intentionally exceed the speed limit....I just "kept up with traffic"). But ,then, as I read more on the Internet, there it was: A European tourist who came back from the US and, a month of so later, received a traffic citation in the mail........from Florida.
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Friday, September 12, 2014, 03:26 PM
Posted by Administrator
Smart rich people (where "rich" is defined as having money to blow and "smart" is defined as wanting to get richer----though, perhaps, getting richer is a valueless endeavor bearing no relationship to intelligence) try to buy valuable stuff, cheap. If we accept that some things are very hard and time consuming to sell (houses, businesses, things of limited interest---my 2005 Vespa is an example of this) and that sometimes people need money fast or don't care that they aren't maximizing the value of what they are selling then it follows that bargains are out there. Make a lot of lowball offers, have cash to back the offer up and you, smart-rich-guy(or gal) can be the proud owner of a restaurant, a huge vacant lot in South Podunk or (for the very lucky) my 2005 Vespa.

So, can you make a decent deal with someone who is cash-rich and trying to lowball you? No. Or, at least, I don't see how. You want what you think your thing is worth and they don't give a crap...they're just hoping that waving cash in front of you (even a little cash) will make you rationalize selling cheap.

What should you do? Say "no" and walk away. Saying more than "no" opens a discussion that it won't benefit you to have. Discussions don't make low-ballers un-low-ball. Saying only "no" shows you're not a dupe and may make what you've got more desireable. After all, if you won't take a low-ball offer...maybe what you're selling is worth more than even you think it is. In which case, your selling price might itself be a low-ball.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 01:11 PM
Posted by Administrator
When I returned our rental Renault Megane to the airport in Brussels the night before we flew out, the Avis employee assigned to check in the car walked immediately to the right, front wheel and announced that there was a small scratch. He, without pause, inputted the damage into a handheld car-check-in device which determined that I owed an additional 119.03 Euros for the damage. I protested that I didn't cause the damage, knew nothing about it, believed it was there before I rented the car (a local car rental agreed with me about this possibility) and that Avis was looking for someone to blame (which I have no real reason to believe...except that I have never been accused of or paid for car rental damage before...and I was VERY careful with this car).

Maybe I did do the damage...a 10mm by 1mm scratch on one spoke of the wheel...but, on the other hand, I was paying them almost $500 for the privilege of driving their car 1,000 miles around metropolitan Europe and, if that was the worst I did I should have received, at least, a small, golden statue in tribute to my driving skills...not a bill.

American Express advertises that they will pay for collision and comprehensive damage....if they are primary (my American car insurance has no interest or obligation in a Belgium damage claim and this lack of interest/obligation makes AmEX primary); if I waived "CDW" (the collision damage "waiver" that lets you pay rental companies $20 a day and then damage their cars with impunity). .

Would I rent from Avis, again? No. I think the claim....legitimate or not.... is petty and low and dirty (and, in my other job, I rent motor scooters so....I'm kind of an industry professional, myself). The counter-person, when I rented, went on and on about the bad things that could happen if I didn't buy CDW. (I'm not saying Avis wanted to prove to me what she had said was true.)

There are a lot of car rental companies out there. I've never had a problem with Enterprise or Hertz. Maybe one of them could have charged me 119.03 Euros for a scratched wheel but, since they didn't, they'll get my next $500 rental instead.
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Telephone Manners 
Friday, August 29, 2014, 09:43 AM
Posted by Administrator
The people who call me most frequently (on my cellphone, at least) work for an extended warranty company. If used to be that sales calls were limited to home and office phones and cellphones were off limits. The warranty company not only knows my cellphone number but also knows that I own or lease an Infinity. Who else knows those two things: Schumacher Infinity is one of them. Goodyear? GEICO? Someone sold my information......but, who?

Unable to get rid of them by telling them not to call, today I told the caller (a delightful woman with a thick Indian accent) that each of my two Infinities ("...are you calling about the red one or the blue one...") had far in excess of 200,000 miles. I insisted I wanted to buy a warranty.....right now. She apologized profusely for not being able to help me and told me "G-d bless you." This made me feel guilty for lying to her.

But, my intention today was not to write about extended car warranties and unwanted cellphone calls but about Matt ___________ (can't say his last name, it might turn out he's a client....though not one I'd keep for long) who called, yesterday at 5:20PM. I answered.

"This call may be monitored or recorded for quality control purposes." was the first thing he said to me. Then he said it was "Matt _______________" and I thought to myself "Who is this/am I supposed to know this guy/Is he a salesperson, client?????" And, then, I thought to myself:


I told him that it was rude to announce at the beginning of a call what he announced at the beginning of this call. He told me "they make us do it" and he said it in a voice that was calming and seemed intended to make me think that it was no big deal, that he and I were pals, and that it shouldn't bother me...."it's nothing" is what he was trying to communicate.

I hung on him and hope he never calls again. It's a crime to record someone's voice in the State of Florida without their consent and....even if it wasn't a's rude to start off a conversation the way he did.

If you want to be rude to
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The Handshake 
Sunday, August 17, 2014, 06:38 PM
Posted by Administrator
I bought a car, today. Okay, I didn't actually buy a car....I leased a car for my daughter to take back to FSU with her. In the course of negotiations, I did the usual: made an unreasonably high offer; agreed to pay more than I wanted to; regretted the decision to buy (lease) within a few minutes after making the decision. But, once a deal is closed, the deal is done the saying goes: "Stick, stack no take back."

And, the deal was closed by a 23 year old manager who I guessed was 35 years old but who could have passed for 18. Here is how she closed me: Step #1: I offered too much; Step #2: She countered with a higher monthly payment than I ever should have agreed to saying "$216 per month."; Step3: she stopped talking and stuck out her right hand for me to shake.

Now, I have written in this very blog about the importance of the negotiation/sales concept: WHOEVER TALKS FIRST LOSES...but, I have never been faced, at the same time, with a-woman's-hand-waiting-to-be-shook. I had two choices: #1 say "no" and ALSO reject the hand or #2 say "yes" and shake the hand.

Whoever talks first loses is based on the idea that we don't want to reject others; we don't want to say "no"; we don't want to disappoint, so, being uncomfortable with silence and feeling an obligation to break the silence and speak, usually we say "yes" and take the offer/buy the car/sell our soul.

To reject someone's handshake is, in our culture, beyond the pale. We shake hands with people we don't like, with drunks, with petty thieves, with politicians. If I refuse to shake your hand, I am relegating you to the ranks of sub-human war criminals and child molesters.

So, to both say "no" and, at the same time, reject the proffered hand (the shaking of which signifies agreement) is near-to-impossible. I couldn't do it. I said "yes" and I shook that hand.

Also, she had impossibly big, impossibly brown eyes. Heck, I'm lucky I got off as cheap as I did.

And,now, by the power vested in me as writer of this blog and proponent-in-chief of WHOEVER TALKS FIRST LOSES, I hereby decree that shutting up and waiting for your opposite to speak should always be accompanied by the extension of a shakable hand. And,if you've got some impossibly big, impossibly brown eyes....use those too.

(Or, were the eyes blue?)

(Hazel....yeah, they were hazel.)

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 03:59 PM
Posted by Administrator
After a woman on a bicycle yelled at me in Ghent (Belgium) as I made a wide turn into a narrow garage in the middle of a hundred year old street, the man from the Bed&Breakfast, who had shown me the way, told me I had done nothing wrong. "It's the Greens", he said. The Green political party was running Ghent now and bicyclists could do no wrong. They were, he said, promoting the use of bicycles and legislating in favor of bicycles over cars was a way of doing this....for instance: giving bicycles the right of way over pedestrians and cars, turning car parking spots into bike racks, letting bicyclists ignore traffic rules.

Leo, the bartender at the hotel we stayed at in Amsterdam, had told my wife the same thing "Bicyclists are always right.", he said. This was in response to her observation that Amsterdam bicycles would fly right at you, middle of the night, headlight off and think that you would jump out of their way instead of feeling obliged to veer around you, say "could you please give me some space", or slow down to make the passing less treacherous.

Bicycles (the most efficient form of transportation) produce no exhaust, take very little space, don't require new roadways or infrastructure, take the burden off of public transportation, keep people fit, require little maintenance, and blast the rider around small cities faster than a speeding cab. They are the epitome of green (which is, I guess, what the Green party is shooting for). So, I understand why "bicycles are always right", but, on the other hand, getting hit by 200 pounds of metal, rubber and flesh (bike and rider) at 20mph (30kph...since we're in Europe) is enough to kill an old man and knock the crap out of anyone else.

....and I'm not sure Belgians and Dutch can sue.

Though, if Leo and the man from the B&B are right.....bicyclists are always right and there is nothing to sue about.

To be continued.
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Hello From Amsterdam 
Saturday, August 2, 2014, 12:01 PM
Posted by Administrator
Here, in Amsterdam, thousands of bicyclists and hundred of motor scooter riders share a narrow path, next to the narrower sidewalk. The scooters blast past the bicyclists and they both blast past startled pedestrians who are also harassed by passing cars and two-train-car trams following tracks laid down the middle of the city's streets.

Pot is "legal" or sort-of-legal or tolerated but, it seems to be bad pot (I don't smoke pot but I keep my ear to the ground----in this case a Union Electrician and a college student, both from New York City---where they tell me there is good pot). Canal boats---long tour boats, small cabin cruisers, a beautiful green steel boat which the woman-owner told me was former US Army---line the sides and (today, at least) boats full of pink-hatted gay-priders glide down, canal center, blasting music (and this seemed to be centered in the canal across the street from Anne Frank's house where a line of people more than 50 yards long waited to pay to be allowed into the attic where Anne hid from the Nazis before visiting the gift shop or doing a quick lunch at the coffee shop...Note: I am talking about the people on line, not Anne. Anne hid from the Nazis before she was discovered, sent to a concentration camp and murdered....there was no gift or coffee shop involved in that and I apologize for any confusion that my phrasing may have caused.).

Almost every street is a shopping street and the streets are packed with locals and foreigners. Many are drunk. All seem well behaved.

Every street seems to have 20 places to buy a beer and sit outside and watch masses of people walk, ride and drive by. The drinking age is 16?, 17?....I don't know but nobody seems interested in proofing anyone else and no teenagers seem to be among the drunk.

"Except for pickpockets it is very safe.", a local told me , this evening. The police don't patrol much (we did see three on bicycles), instead, "there are cameras everywhere", plainclothes police in crowds (and a van full of them in the middle of what seemed to be a small, 1:00AM demonstration that happened a few blocks from our hotel).

Marijuana is sold out of coffee shops and there is a minimum age of 18 to get in. Prostitutes sit behind the large windows of ground floor shops. Long red lights glow over each window. The red lights are there to let passer-bys know that sex is for sale...though seeing a woman wearing only a thong dancing around and motioning for people to come in is another sex-is-for-sale tip off. I do not know the minimum age for this because I have not yet thought to ask.

To be continued.....
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Thursday, July 24, 2014, 08:31 PM
Posted by Administrator
Battery, a crime under English common well as a tort: a reason to sue for simply a touching that is not consented to. By standing at a crowded bar, we implicitly consent to being gently pushed aside by someone behind us needing to sidle up to the bar and get the bartender's attention....and a drink. But, no matter how crowded the bar....the concert....the supermarket....the bus, we don't consent to being punched upside the head, shoved violently down the aisle, or grabbed by the butt.

Today, I consented to a local oral surgeon shooting my mouth up with novocaine and then pounding, grinding and cracking the remains of a broken tooth (way in the back....does not interfere with my good looks) out of my mouth. I indicated my consent by opening my mouth and acknowledging that the needle he held in his hand was about to be jammed into my gums ("You'll feel a pinch." ......I benefitted, also, from learning a new definition for "pinch").

But, before he began the work of pulverizing the tooth and ripping out the remains and, as my mouth became sufficiently numb, his assistant handed me an Informed Consent Form. In medical procedures, the law says, the patient needs to be informed of the risks he/she is running by getting involved in the whole business of treatment for the consent to be effective. In other words, if you aren't warned the dentist might break your jaw...and he or she breaks can sue for battery because without Informed Consent to the touching, the touching is a battery....

...whether or not it is medical/dental malpractice as well.

The good news (gleaned from the Informed Consent form) was that my jaw didn't break; a piece of tooth-root that would have needed significant surgery to remove wasn't left behind; a nerve was not disturbed leaving my face partially paralyzed for the short term, medium term, or (in rare cases) permanently; no entry was made into my sinus; and, best of all, I did not go so far South that the oral surgeon (Rolf Wolfrom) was required to do whatever he believed ought to be done to save my bacon.
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Ice is slippery. 
Friday, July 18, 2014, 10:23 AM
Posted by Administrator
A few years ago, in Portugal, my friend rented a sailboat on the beach and, having little sailboating experience, managed to flip it over and dump his then 6 year old son into the Mediterranean Sea. His son floated away from the overturned boat and, as he floated, his life preserver (my friend had not fastened the under-crotch strap) began to float over his head. Here in the US, he probably wouldn't have been allowed to rent the boat without proving up his abilities...fear of liability lawsuits quash fun.

The Portuguese boat rental outfit....perhaps carefree, but not fools....had a chase boat bobbing around a mile or so offshore. People in the boat snatched up the son before he drowned and helped to right the sailboat.

Years ago...probably early 1970s..., I bought the last Bongo Board at a sporting goods store in New York. The Bongo Board consists of a wooden roller and a board that sits on top. It proves the rule of physics that says: "A body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force." The rider helps to prove the rule by standing on the board and rolling back and forth until the roller hits a stop at the end of the board, the board stops moving and the rider goes flying into the nearest wall, window, or floor.

In the 1990s, I guess, Bongo Boards reappeared and I bought one (making me one of the few local lawyers who own two Bongo Boards). This one came with a wonderful warning. On the front of the board, next to where one of the rider's feet would go, it says "HEY! That Means You! Turn this board over and read the label before right now!"

Here is what the label on the back says:
Ice is slippery. Life is risky. Bones break. In life, as with this product, accept only the level of risk that you can competently handle. To minimize the chance of injury, wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear at all times when using this device, and give yourself plenty fo space to maneuver. Also, read the provided instruction sheet prior to using. Lastly, remember that the best protection from injury is a little common sense!"

The above are the words of KZT Sports USA in Harwinton, Connecticut. I tried to call KZT but there was no answer. The board (though 20 years newer than the first board) had no website address.

KZT Sports is likely gone. Too bad. The world suffers when you can't buy odd and tricky stuff or rent something fun but not un-dangerous. Think about that next time you see a lawyer advertising on TV about how great it is to sue. Not that liability lawsuits don't have their place.... but ice IS slippery; life Is risky; and, sometimes, bones break.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 04:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
I had lunch with a friend of mine, today, who reported that she had been trying to get a call back from the principal of the charter school her son attends about having the son tested for a possible learning disability. My suggestion (as glommed, primarily, from an airline in-flight magazine years ago) was: "Leave him/her a message that you are confused and that you're just going to call the School Board." I am figuring that a Charter School doesn't want problems from the school board; I'm convinced (right or wrong) that the school system has an obligation to test the kid and provide him with appropriate "accommodations" under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"); and, in any event, the threat of an ADA issue strikes (I believe) fear into the heart of all governmental and sort-of-governmental entitles.

When someone doesn't call you back, make it clear (in a nice way ..."I'm confused why I haven't gotten a call back....maybe the School Board can explain"...and, when I say "School Board", I mean the Superintendent....aim high, YOU are important) that you will now endeavor to raise their anxiety level until you get what you want.

On the subject of unsuccessful communications, today the other business had an insurance issue and I set out to fix it. We don't need scooter rental insurance.....we need (and supposedly had....but that is another story) premises liability insurance. In response to my follow up email attempting to make it clear what we wanted ("We need premises and slip & fall, we already have scooter rental insurance") I was told "Sorry, we don't know of any company that writes scooter rental insurance."

Another company, on the telephone, told me that my scooter rental insurance (same as auto insurance) would cover us for the building burning down and somebody tripping on an odd scooter part left in the street. If you've got your BMW insured with GEICO, try getting them to pay for a tree falling on the roof of your house. Most insurance agents I've run into are a lot smarter than this (though maybe not the agent who assured me we have premises liability insurance and set this fiasco into motion). Beware.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 10:39 AM
Posted by Administrator
A couple of days ago, I opened an email that I thought was from a client. As I began to read it, I realized it was from "a client"....just not my was from the other side. I looked at the addressees and saw his lawyer's email next to mine. Whether the client intended that I get a copy or whether it was inadvertent, I don't know. As soon as I saw who it was from, I stopped reading and I emailed the sender's lawyer saying, more or less: "When I saw this email was from your client, I stopped reading it. I would be happy to receive emails from him but only with your knowledge and consent."

I never received a response from the lawyer (e.g."Thanks for letting me know, Steve."????? -nope).

All of this made me think of a letter that I FAXed years ago...before email was invented or, at least, before it was popular. I meant to FAX the letter to my client but someone (me or an employee) Faxed it instead to the other lawyer. The letter talked about what we were going to do in the case and said, in part (and, I'm changing the name): "Let's not jerk Ray Glickell around."

The other lawyer "Glickell" received the FAX, read the letter and responded with, more or less this: "Don't be calling me a jerk." He was not happy.

I responded, more or less, as follows:
-"Once you saw that the letter was addressed to my client, you should have respected the attorney-client privilege and NOT READ IT."
-"The letter said that we shouldn't jerk you didn't say that you were a "jerk"*.

*(We didn't find that out until after we Faxed the letter.)

Note: Years have gone by and I am confident that Glickell was only a jerk for those few brief moments.

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Friday, May 23, 2014, 11:18 PM
Posted by Administrator
"Can we search your car, real quick?" "Would you come over here, real quick?" "Could I ask you a couple of questions, real quick?" I began to notice that in TV shows from Alaska State Troopers to Cops to Campus PD (okay, I watch too much television), police officers frequently use the term "real quick". (True story: Within a few minutes of writing this entry, while looking for something on TV, I stopped at COPS and within a few seconds, what looked to me to be a Palm Beach County Deputy Sheriff said to someone who looked to be under arrest: "I'm gonna secure you in the back of one of these cars REAL QUICK.")

People feel less intruded upon and less inconvenienced if they will be bothered only briefly. They are more likely to say "yes" to someone who doesn't want that much and "real quick" doesn't seem like much. And, when it comes to agreeing to a search...when you have something to hide, a "real quick" search probably won't find anything.

Salespeople have used a similar technique to maximize "yesses" when asking for an appointment: "When will you be free for a few minutes?" "Could I stop by at 12:45 or would 2:15 be better for you.", intended to suggest that all I need is 15 minutes. Asking for an appointment at 1:00PM would imply I'd waste an hour of your time. On the other hand, 15 minutes goes by "real quick".

Of course, the search won't really be "real quick"; the questioning won't be "real quick" and the salesperson will be there for a whole lot more than "a few minutes". And, you won't be able to complain to the court that what the police found during the search can't be used against you because all you consented to was a "real quick" search and, in fact, it wasn't "real quick"...especially when you add in the time it took to arrest you and drive you to the jail.

So, when someone....certainly the police...say "real quick", realize it's sales-talk designed to maximize the possibility that you'll cooperate and say "yes". And, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't cooperate....just that you not buy into the idea that it will be "real quick".
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 01:25 PM
Posted by Administrator
Putting aside all of the great things lawyers do besides defending the innocent and guilty, writing both enforceable and unenforceable contracts ("It's not worth the paper it's written on."), getting huge jury verdicts for innocent victims (and some fraudsters), and inspiring prime time TV....lawyers facilitate transactions. Here is an example: if a collection agent cheats you, there is no recourse...if a lawyer cheats you, you may be able to get him/her thrown out of the Bar (the professional organization specific to each state where admission and membership is required to hold yourself out as a "lawyer" or "attorney" reference is intended to bars that serve alcohol, though, getting thrown out of one of those is arguable worse. And, because you have recourse (threat hanging over the lawyer's head), you are more likely to trust a lawyer-engineered deal and, so, more likely to make a deal. Transaction=facilitated!


A few credits short of college graduation and a few years before law school, I rented an ESKIMO PIE ice cream truck from the local ESKIMO PIE distributor and sold ice cream. Before taking to the streets on my own, I spent a day with an experienced ESKIMO PIE Ice Cream Man and his first lesson was: "Don't hand them the ice cream until they hand you the money."

This, I thought, was rude, and when I made my very first sale, I handed the high school girl a Dr. Pepper (we also sold soda) and she ran off with it. So, I drove the truck after her....down alleys, the wrong-way on one way streets...finally cornering her against a building (note: NOT an exaggeration). "I opened your soda, do you really want it back?", she said "Yes.", I said.

Maybe word went out on the street that I was an idiot and I'd chase people down with my truck if they didn't pay or, maybe the high school girl was the only bad seed in town, but, I continued to hand out ice cream (and soda) before I was paid and never was stiffed again. Later in life...after law school and some legal experience, I realized out that having a lawyer act as escrow agent would have been another approach to the conundrum: the lawyer would hold the ice cream and the money in his hand and, when he had both, would hand the buyer their ice cream and the seller(me) the money. Lawyers act as escrow agents all the time: "Hold the settlement papers until the check clears."

Don't trust the collection agent that if you pay the money, they'll leave you alone forever? If there is a lawyer involved, communicate with him or her. If the lawyer breaks their word they might be risking their ticket to practice law.

(Though I note that it is an ethical violation for another lawyer to suggest that a non-performing lawyer be threatened with a Bar Complaint...which begs the question: Who makes up this stuff?)

Editor's Note: The foregoing was penned by blog contributor Bob Smith who....with the snow melting in Northern Wyoming, was able to make it across the border to one of the Tim Hortons Donuts in Medicine Hat, Alberta for the first time since early April. About his visit, Bob reports: "I am very excited about trying the new Frozen Hot Chocolate! late August, it should be warm enough for that."

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Thursday, April 17, 2014, 11:27 AM
Posted by Administrator
I have always liked my doctor so it is (relatively) easy for me to go to him.....though, in general, I'm not a fan of poking and prodding (I am okay with needles, however). Someone, a few years (which, at my age, means a dozen years or more) wrote an article in the New York Times weekly Science section that said this, more or less: none of her patients showed any interest in HER life; how her mother's cancer was doing; how her day was going....they were only interested in themselves. This is surprising because in a world where we are interested in other people in varying degrees, how can we not be interested in the people who have us half-naked sitting on an stainless steel table?

My favorite former client (you know who you are) always spent some time when we met asking what was new with me; how was my family; what had I done, lately. She got charged less (and, certainly, didn't get charged for time we spent talking about me or rambling on about things that had nothing to do with her case). It was refreshing.

So, ask your lawyer how she is doing? "Anything new?" ...and shut up and see what she says. Don't ask: "Had any interesting cases?" That sounds like you are looking for a dog and pony show.

I hope you are doing well. Have a fun day.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 01:12 AM
Posted by Administrator, if you are being SUED or need to file a suit, have been ARRESTED, or can't pay your bills, call and make an APPOINTMENT to come in to see us. Sorry, but we can't respond to emailed questions. Note that while we don't write wills (unless coerced), we don't create trusts, we don't know much about real estate transactions (unless there are problems), we know nothing about copyrights or trademarks, securities, and we don't draft "prenups" (we know how but ...too much liability)....we've been around for more than 30 years so we know who does a good job at these things.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 12:41 AM
Posted by Administrator
We, at Steven R. Duhl, PA, have been behind the times in advertising for the past decade...our taste for paying the media to huck for us having been ruined by one particular over-bearing salesperson for the Yellow Pages (remember the Yellow Pages?). Don't get me wrong, I'd have a drink with her....personally she is fine....but if this particular salesperson came by to sell me something, I'd call the police.

But, the Yellow Pages is last century, anyway, and now that they've put the Internet on computers what we lawyers need is a great website that comes up on the first page of every google lawyer search imaginable: "lawyer who fishes for salmon" "lawyer who sues car washes" "I need a lawyer 'cause I won the lottery". You get the idea.

So, in an effort to achieve this, I phoned up a Miami Internet marketing company recommended to me. This is what I learned:

-Websites must include a CALL TO ACTION. Call us NOW! Email us for an appointment before you lose your concentration! PICK UP THE PHONE AND DIAL...THIS MEANS YOU! In other words, if person looking at your website doesn't act and contact you in a minute or 90 seconds....they're off to the next website and you (in this case...ME....are nothing more than a forgotten memory and, being a forgotten memory is not a big revenue generator.

-Get yourself a super-good website (cost=$2,500 and up). (Note that our website is the polar opposite of "super-good"...though I do think that my picture makes me LOOK super-good.)

-Pay a one-time $1,500 fee and then pay between $500 and $5,000 per month to have
relevant key words analyzed and then injected into the website so google takes notice and puts the site on top of the list of sites they're going to display. You can pay google ("pay per click") to be at the top of the list or you can pay someone in the website-maximization-SEO (search engine optimization) business to jimmy things around and, hopefully, you'll get on top of the results without paying google....though you'll pay someone else...but, you won't be paying google (which, I have learned, is for some reason much better thing than paying google).

-Do a video on the website that contains pertinent and informative lawyer-stuff. For example, do a video where you are sitting behind your desk talking about a new alimony law or how you'd better get to a doctor within two weeks of getting into a car accident....something to make you look intelligent and knowledgable. Apparently, google picks up on these videos and puts you on top.

I have frequently been visited by, phoned called, and otherwise solicited by media salespeople. This is what I tell them, more or less: "Maybe I made a mistake not leaving lawyering 15 years ago and taking up selling advertising to other lawyers. Lawyers are the biggest suckers for advertising on the planet---bill boards, TV, signs on buses and taxicabs....

.... and, of course, website maximization on the Internet."

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Thursday, March 27, 2014, 05:09 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today, I yelled at a police officer as he drove by intending to have him stop so I could discuss with him his traffic violation. I was riding a bicycle (shooting for 50 miles/week but rarely reaching it) a few blocks West of downtown and he had driven by me about 18 inches off my left elbow...after honking at me. He was, it appeared, reluctant to cross the double yellow a foot or two...even though there was no oncoming traffic. And, frankly, I don't think he knew the law was ....pass non-motorized vehicles and bicycles at a reasonable distance of not less than 3 feet. He seemed surprised at my complaint.

But...and here, I think, is something important....when he got out of his car wondering whether I was going to be confrontational, I moved to the back of his car to get his number. Once I made that move, he knew that I wasn't afraid of him (being old and not doing anything wrong helps with this one) and that I would know who to complain about if there was a complaint to be made. There wasn't.

We were cordial. He thought I was wrong for not riding in the empty parking spaces to my right (there was a car blocking the way a hundred feet up and I would have had to swerve into the road to avoid it). I thought he was wrong because the law says 3 feet and he ignored it.

It is important to remember that cops are people too....they make mistakes...they need to be corrected. So, feel free to stop a cop....(they don't have misgivings about stopping you)).......just be cordial, make sure you can later identify who you spoke with, and, of course, don't be doing anything illegal. Also, be old.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 08:45 PM
Posted by Administrator
Charged with a crime? You'll have three bad choices.
-Take the plea deal offered by the prosecutor.
-Plead guilty and leave it to the judge to sentence you. (The judge wants you to take the prosecutor's deal so he/she doesn't have to make any decisions.)
-Go to home...lose=get sentenced by the judge (who now is mad that you wasted his/her time with a trial instead of owning up to your crime).

There is no good choice. There are three bad choices and you must pick the one you think will be least bad. Frequently (usually) people with three bad choices can't decide anything because they keep looking for that 4th GOOD choice. But, it doesn't exist so it is back to choice #1 and the cycle repeats.

And, just because you are able to pick the choice you think will be least bad (usually, the prosecutor's offer)...doesn't mean that you picked correctly. It could be that you guessed wrong about the consequences of the choices: you would have WON the trial....the judge wanted you to leave it to him/her because you remind him of his little sister and he always wanted to make it up to her for being mean when they were growing up.

Or, was she mean to him?

Good luck.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 03:36 PM
Posted by Administrator
(The title is, of course, attributable to TV personality Homer Simpson.)

Reviews are on computers, too. A renter at our other business, on the way outside to inspecting a motor scooter for pre-rental damage, said to me "You have a great reputation on TripAdvisor, so I don't need to worry." At first, I thought that he trusted us because of our reputation. Then, I realized that he was threatening to ruin it (by publishing a bad review) if we tried to charge him for scooter damage he didn't cause. Potato.... potaato.

My daughter doubted that her future landlord (a corporate behemoth) would give her the same discount on a three bedroom apartment as they would have on a four bedroom. One of their representatives said they would if one of the (4) prospective roommates crapped out and, one did. "But, I don't have it in writing." my daughter said. My wife and I made her call and ask for the decision maker. She got the discount. Was the housing complex afraid of bad internet reviews or were they just nice people? What's fair becomes more attainable if you have the ability to announce your grievance to an interested public in search engine results.

On the other hand, if you publish an unfair review...not representative of the facts... I'll sue you for libel.

One more thing:
-People DO believe college kids.
-Things are often binding/enforceable/actionable even if they're "NOT IN WRITING".
-What you heard someone say IS evidence.

Okay, that was 3 more things.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014, 08:22 AM
Posted by Administrator
So much of lawyering is selling stuff and, despite what so many young salespeople think, "selling", "sales" and "salesperson" are not dirty words. If we didn't have people selling, there wouldn't be things to buy, deals to make, settlements to agree on and compromises reached. In the spirit of selling good and useful things and ideas to others, I will now discuss: THE THIRD PARTY COMPLEMENT. (Thanks to Ralph at the Burroughs Corp. Sales School, Southfield, Michigan, +/- 1975 for---by my recollection--being the one who described the concept to me.)

"Nancy, Jack and I were talking, yesterday, about how much he liked your dress."

1) Nancy now knows that she is so important that Jack and I talk about a positive way....when she is not around.
2) I didn't say that I liked her dress. So, she has no reason to think I'm kissing up to her. I said that Jack had said that he liked it and, that must be true because there is no reason that Jack would lie to me about liking the dress. So, it really was one heck of a dress.
3) Nancy is so important that I still remember that I had the dress conversation with Jack and that I made sure I told her about it.

So, Nancy comes away convinced that she is an important person with great taste in clothing. She likes me better for telling her the story. Of course, she likes Jack.

In my years of telling Ralph-from-Burroughs-Sales-School's THE THIRD PARTY COMPLEMENT, nobody ---salesperson, lawyer or civilian----has ever indicated that they have heard of it, before. So, you, as a reader of this blog, are safe in using it with your friends and need not be concerned that you will be told "Oh, that's just THE THIRD PARTY COMPLEMENT." (On the other hand, if someone does know it, could you please confirm that they were with me in Southfield, Michigan in 1975 and ask them to give me a call. I am still confused about how to turn OBJECTIONS INTO QUESTIONS.... maybe they can help.)

Note: Nothing in the above example is intended to objectify women. My first thought was a guy named "Ben" with a really nice tie. But, the whole complementing-a-tie-thing is time worn. Every business day, in every courthouse---large or small---across all of America, all of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong....the following is a requirement in the English speaking world... plays out at least once:

"Hey, man, how're you doing, I really like your tie."
"I like your tie, too."
"Then, let's trade."

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17 years, 364 days, 23 hours 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 07:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
17 years, 364 days, 23 hours is the time, after birth, when a person is one hour away from having the legal capacity to sign a contract, agree to settle a case, waive their rights. At the moment we each turned 18, our signature became worth something.

At our other business (renting scooters and bicycles), we won't rent to someone under 18 unless a parent is there to sign for them. A young man came in to rent a bicycle, yesterday, and I asked his age. "17", he said and I immediately felt very badly that I was going to tell him "We can't rent to you." His signature on our Release (reciting that renters agree not to sue us if they get injured riding our equipment) would be worthless. His parents would have the same right to complain about our renting to him at age 17 as they would if their 5 year old toddled in and we rented to her.

On the other hand, when I was 17, I bought a 1967 Austin Healy sports car. As I drove away from the seller's house in suburban Denver, the friend who had driven me to pick up the car began honking his horn to get me to look back and see the smoke pouring out of the Healy's exhaust. As soon as I got back to Denver, I called the seller and said "You've got to give me my money back...I'm only 17 and I'm not old enough to buy the car."

I can't remember if he laughed.....or just hung up on me.
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Saturday, January 25, 2014, 10:42 PM
Posted by Administrator
Sometimes, people buy a house or a car or a cow and put it in someone else's name. There are legitimate reasons to do this:
-The real buyer can't get credit in their name.
-The real buyer is out of the country or otherwise unavailable to sign papers.
Okay, I can't think of any other legitimate reasons but, I'm sure there are some.

Illegitimate reasons to put your property in someone else's name include:
-So you don't have to tell the bankruptcy court about the property (except that, really, it's your property....regardless of whose name it's in and not disclosing in a sworn document is perjury).
-So your wife won't get 1/2 in a divorce (except that she probably knows exactly what you've matter how hard you try to keep it from her...and, again, that whole perjury thing.)
-So your creditors can't take the property after they sue you and get a judgment (except that whole perjury thing rears it's ugly head when you are required to disclose what you've got, under oath).

Because, whether the property is in someone else's name for good reason or bad, if it is your property, it's your property. You are the "equitable owner" of whatever it is you really own. The person whose name the property is in holds the property "in trust" for you. If the legal owner (the one whose name is on the paperwork) sells the property or if one of their creditors seize it, it might be tough-luck-on-you. But, between the equitable owner and the legal title holder, the equitable owner always wins...

Or, at least, wins if they can prove the property is theirs. Your sister will probably agree the house is really your house---you just used her better credit to buy it. But, will your son-the-drug-dealer admit the car you asked him to buy for you is your car?
"My mother gave me $5,000 to buy the car for myself.", he'll testify.....if you are inclined to sue your own flesh and blood.

So, the equitable owner always wins......if they can prove their case.
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Friday, January 3, 2014, 01:17 AM
Posted by Administrator
New Years in South Texas meant seeing a TV commercial where television Judge Mathis endorses local attorney Brian Locar (whose chosen nickname is, I think "The Fist"), in the tackiest lawyer ad I've ever seen (and, I say that with all due respect to our local tacky lawyer ads). New Years also meant looking at Craigslist (for the other business) where I found someone in Plantation looking to sell the bicycle that was stolen from me the day after Christmas, 2012. The bike was at the dock at the end of Fern St. Someone cut the cable lock.

The general rule is that if you buy stolen property for fair market value (or near to it) and don't have reason to know the property is stolen then you are the owner, free from any claim of the person it was stolen from. This seems harsh and unfair but, I guess, it promotes always get good title to personal property as long as you don't know that it's stolen; a reasonable person wouldn't know that it was stolen; and you paid fair market value. You are a BONA FIDE PURCHASER FOR VALUE (a BFP) and that's that.

Cars have titles and, if you don't bother to look at the title and get the title signed over to you, you aren't the owner of the matter how much you paid. Leases are sometimes registered and if you buy something that has a recorded lease (and belongs to the lessor), you'll never own that. Things bought from a known thief; in an alley in the middle o the night; from the trunk of a car.....are so likely to have been stolen that you'll never be a BFP. Buy stolen jewelry at a pawn shop, though, it's yours.

I posted my own ad on Craigslist....trying to tell whoever is looking that it's my bike. So, if the seller isn't a BFP anyone who should have seen my ad can't be one either.

Really, I'll never get the bike back. And the police won't care that I've got information to supplement the original theft report.

The law and THE LAW isn't against me.... but neither is going to help me much.
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ANSWERING Jesus Rabinowitz 
Tuesday, December 24, 2013, 06:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
Though it is, perhaps, our civic duty to talk to law enforcement (when we have nothing to hide---having something to hide is covered by the 5th Amendment RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT), it is likely not our civic duty to keep talking. In polite society, if you ask me a question, likely...I'll answer it. But, if you keep asking the same question, I'll figure that you're being rude in continuing to ask.

The problem, frequently, in talking to the police is that they will (in spite of the strictures of polite society) keep asking the same question; asking for a re-telling of the same story; looking for a repeat of the same explanation. And, humans being human, the answer/story/explanation will change a little with each telling. It won't be a "change" in the story....but it can be made to look more than a little suspicious ("You know, that's not what you told us the first time we asked."). Suspicions that arise from telling things a little differently sometimes result in nice people being arrested and, at trial, those small differences are sometimes blown out of proportion and become tough to explain away.

So, if you are going to talk to the once. If you're asked back for a second interview say "no"; or bring a lawyer; or tell the inviter: "You know, everyone's story changes a little every time they're asked to tell it. So, I'm okay with your relying on what I've already said." And, if the inviter says things are unclear or they just need one more thing explained, say "No....but email me and I'll have a look at what you need." Then, see a lawyer.

Are the cops smarter than you?

Yes. (Okay, maybe not at calculus or astrophysics or brain surgery or actuarial science or whatever it is that you do..........but, at this:'re not even in the same league.)
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We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
Tuesday, December 24, 2013, 06:46 PM
Posted by Administrator
We'll be out of town for a few days for the holidays (in and around Weslaco, Texas.....just a few miles from the last hand operated ferry in the U.S.; the border wall with Mexico; and the Rio Grande River)....eating freshly killed goat. Apart from that, we'll be in town.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013, 01:41 PM
Posted by Administrator
For various reasons well-known to our clients, friends and acquaintances, we are able to offer appointments seven days a week (though not all seven days of every week).

We work for ourselves, set our own hours; and aren't married to "normal business hours" or "the work week". It can be hard to leave your job to see a lawyer who is available only 9-5 Monday to Friday. How about Saturday morning at 9:15?
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Tax Refunds, Bankruptcy, End O' The Year Issues 
Thursday, December 19, 2013, 08:50 PM
Posted by Administrator
Planning on having the IRS send you a refund? Deep enough into debt to be considering filing for Bankruptcy? Is is the end of the year, already?

Much as I believe that you should do yourself whatever it is you are able to do yourself (personally, I had my septic tank open, yesterday, and was cleaning out a clog), for some things, you probably should consult with a licensed professional. What goes on with a tax refund for bankruptcy filers is one of those things....especially as the end of the year approaches and the new year begins.

In Bankruptcy, Court Appointed Trustees are eager to snatch your refund and use the money to pay something back to your creditors. It is a noble idea and I've had clients who have happily handed over their refund check. On the other hand, by a ratio of about 100:1, the vast majority of my clients have not wanted to turn over their refund check....and they haven't. It does take some thought and planning to legitimately (without lying, cheating, or stealing) keep your refund. Here are some helpful hints...things to do on the way to see that lawyer:

-Don't give the refund money to family members or friends to "hold" for you;
-Also, don't pay back your family members or friends with the money;
-Don't use the money to buy a big TV or jewelry or a really cool assault weapon....or spend it on getting your car fixed up real nice;
-Feel free to spend the refund money on fixing a leaking roof or needed dental work or even a nice meal out......but don't get carried away.

Oh, by the way, the tax refund money really should go into a separate, new bank account without payroll money in it......and you should probably spend the tax refund money and keep your paycheck (in the separate account).............

but, really, it's a complicated subject so go see a lawyer before you get something wrong......and it costs you.
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Monday, December 16, 2013, 03:20 PM
Posted by Administrator
This is a test of the mechanical end of the blog. My last two entries disappeared when I clicked on "POST". (I am aware that this may be on commentary on the quality of the entries.)
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Saturday, November 23, 2013, 11:06 AM
Posted by Administrator
There is agreement or, as lawyers would have it, "A meeting of the minds." every time we agree to settle a case, sign a deal to buy a house, fork over $1.75 for a Coke. Both sides agrees on a price and terms of sale ("Also, I need you to open the coke bottle for me.") and a deal is done.

Please accept for a moment that the instant you agree to a deal is usually a moment of insanity. Not murderous insanity but toss-your-normal-inhibitions-out-the-window-for-a-moment insanity. Since nobody really "needs" a brand new Audi Coupe for $83,000, no rational person would ever buy one...but people buy them every day, frequently committing to 5 or 6 years of monthly payments. And, the next day, almost all of them get "buyer's remorse" when they question their decision to buy in the cold-logical light of the next day. Buyer's remorse is that uncomfortable feeling we get when we think about that moment of insanity that caused us to buy the car we didn't need or settle the case for a lot less than we walked into mediation thinking we would walk away with. Buyer's remorse does not usually apply to the purchase of the Coke, unless it is an all-the-time thing and the buyer's waistline grows.

Lawyers looking to settle (even your own lawyer looking to get you to settle); salespeople; negotiators; mediators all look to promote the moment of insanity without which the sale won't happen or the case won't resolve and will have to go to trial. Some methods to achieve the MOMENT are:
1) Keep the process going for a long time (Ever notice that nobody at the car dealership is eager to let you leave? I once spent a day at a Lexus dealer waiting for lunch to come....and then waiting for the TV raffle). Mediation for lawsuits works the same way----6 hours in? You may be just getting started.
2) For sales, tell your customer that someone else is very interested and that if they don't buy now, the item will likely be gone. (When I last looked for office space in downtown WPB, every rental agent ---except my present landlord--- told me "We've given a lease for the space to someone else....whoever gets it signed and back to me first gets the space." Most of the locations that were attached to that story were still vacant 18 months later.)
3) Low blood sugar? Gotta get out of there? I really, really like the mediator and don't want to disappoint her. I don't want to look indecisive. I don't want to look cheap or look like I can't afford it. Going to court is scary.

On the other hand, if we didn't forget reason for a moment and take the other side's offer, all lawsuits would go to trial and we'd all be driving 2001 Hyundias.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013, 11:02 PM
Posted by Administrator
Most people hate silence and will say something.....anything they can think of, to fill up the silence with noise. Witnesses, left with a few moments between questions (and, intentionally left with those few moments by a questioner who knows this stuff) will say all kinds of things that they never would say in response to a direct question. Silence makes people uncomfortable and their discomfort makes them want to talk and keeps them from auditing what they say.

"So", the car salesperson will say, "do you want to buy the car now?" The smart salesperson will shut up hoping the customer will get uncomfortable in the silence and, after a while spent fidgeting, say "yes". Whoever talks first loses. If the salesperson gets uncomfortable first and says, for example "I'll give you floor mats for free.", the silence will be over, the customer won't be uncomfortable anymore, the moment will be lost and the sale will be gone.

Try it. Ask a question and then shut up....for a long time....and see what the other person says....eventually and when the fidgeting stops. Even after they speak, wait a while and see what else they've got to say. Next time someone does it to you (and, someone will) just sit there...don't speak at all...not until the other person does and no matter how long it takes....see what happens next.

Remember: whoever talks first loses.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 12:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
We do offer free consultations (in person....we can't do much over the telephone) for legal issues involving:

Criminal Defense
Legal Issues concerning small businesses.

All consultations are with me, Steve Duhl. All court appearances are by me. All legal work is done by me. Nothing is handed off to paralegals or younger lawyers.

We are located in beautiful, downtown West Palm Beach....about 4 blocks from the County Courthouse. (561-328-6196)
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Saturday, November 9, 2013, 12:32 PM
Posted by Administrator
A "Chapter 7" Bankruptcy is the kind where you generally don't pay anything to creditors. Most middle-class and lower middle-class people would qualify for this. Most people...the VAST MAJORITY...... who file DON'T have to turn over any property.

Bad things:
2) You can only file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy every 8 years (more or less), if you get into financial trouble in the meantime (a car accident where you were at-fault and didn't have enough insurance, for example) you'd have to look into other options to solve the problem.
3) There are lots of papers to get together.
4) Unless you think you can do it yourself, you've got to hire a lawyer.
5) You must answer annoying questions.
6) It is a bad option for people who like to lie, cheat and steal.

That's pretty much it. The bad side of bankruptcy is overblown....usually by people and companies with something to sell.

Also, when you consider the bad, you've got to compare it to the good...things like:
-Get rid of most debt (you've got to pay your mortgage payment if you want to keep your house and your car payment if you want to keep your car).
-Stops lawsuits (not alimony/child support related), garnishments, collection calls, repossessions.
-Can get your driver license reinstated if it's suspended under the "Financial Responsibility Act" (not if you owe because of a DUI.)

The above is a totally incomplete list of the good and the bad (but, it's a College Football Saturday.....FSU (the kid's school, is beating up Wake Forest and the Gators.....the season is just making me want to cry.......9-0: Vanderbuilt! really?) and I've got to go.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 11:49 AM
Posted by Administrator
If you file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you'll need to go to a "341 Meeting" about one month after you file. The "Meeting" will be in an office/medical building on Flagler Drive....the 3rd building South of Good Samaritan Hospital/where-PalmBeachLakesBlvd.-dead ends at the Intracoastal. You will travel by elevator to the 8th Floor and then walk a few feet to the North of the elevator and through a door marked TRUSTEE'S MEETING ROOM. There will many, many chairs set up in rows.

To the left of the door there is a glass case with some pages stapled inside. Read the pages. On a small, folding table in front will be a sheet of paper with a few questions and boxes to check.

Usually, the court appointed Trustee will call your case more-or-less on time. Sometimes, you've got to wait a while as the cases before you drag on. When your case gets called, you will walk into another room. This one has it's chairs along the walls and three tables in the middle forming a "T". Unless you're first, have a seat in one of the chairs along the wall.

When your case is called, the Trustee will have you raise your right hand and swear you in. You'll hand over your DRIVER LICENSE and SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. Then, you'll be asked some questions:
-Did you read your Petition and Schedules before you signed?
-Did you include all of your creditors and all of your assets?
-Is everything true/do you intend to make changes?
-How did you get into financial trouble?
-Have you ever filed bankruptcy before? (I think the rule, now, least 8 years between "discharges"....probably less time in between if your case was dismissed.)
-Did you read the TRUSTEE'S INFORMATION SHEET? (That's the pages in the glass case that I told you to read.)

The Trustee's job is:
A) To make a preliminary determination that you aren't lying, cheating, stealing, defrauding....and to advise the court/FBI if you likely are.
B) To see if you have assets that ought to be taken and liquidated with the proceeds distributed to your creditors. (You can keep a lot of things in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy but not everyone can keep everything they've got....telling you what exactly to expect on this issue is your lawyer's job.)

Creditors can come to the "Meeting" and ask questions but it's rare that they do.

Usually, when the Trustee says "This meeting is concluded.", your participation in your Bankruptcy is pretty much over. They'll still be time limits that have to run but, to paraphrase Churchill: the 341 Meeting isn't the end of the Bankruptcy, but, it is the beginning of the end.

Note: What Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time....with Britain pretty much in the middle of losing WW2 to Germany....actually said was: "THIS IS NOT THE END. THIS IS NOT THE BEGINNING OF THE END. BUT, IT IS, THE END OF THE BEGINNING." Britain had, finally, won a significant battle. He wanted them to celebrate the victory...but not too much.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 02:48 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today...for the other business....I transferred title to a new motor vehicle to the subchapter "S" company in which my wife and I are the sole stockholders, Layse, Inc. (dba iScootPalmBeach). (Note that we are not "partners" in our other business....we own all of the stock in the corporation. The corporation, Layse, Inc., has registered "iscootpalmbeach" as the name it is going business under. It appears that doing business with a fictitious name that isn't registered with the Secretary Of State is a CRIME here in Florida. Likely, though, it is a crime that nobody has ever been arrested for.) The seller's title said "John Smith" OR "Jane Smith. Only John had signed the title to transfer it to the corporation. That was fine.

And, if Jane had been unhappy with John, the "OR" in the title would have let her sell..even if the vehicle were the car he drove. Had the title said "John Smith" and "Jane Smith", a transfer would have required both signatures. The DMV (Tax Collector) will only do "and" if you ask.

They'll also do the title as "Jane Smith and John Smith as tenants by the entirety" and....since they are married...John and Jane would each own 100% of the vehicle subject to the other's 100% ownership. So, a creditor of one of them couldn't seize the car.....because the other one owned it too. Most states don't recognize "tenancys by the entireties" but Florida does.

Deeds for land which recite "John Smith and Jane Smith, husband and wife" create that same-each-owns-100% entireties interest. A creditor of both John and Jane could (after obtaining a judgment) seize the property (unless it is "homestead" property) but a creditor of only one would be helpless.....until one of them died. Bank accounts can be titled this way, too. For a long-time married couple, their couch and TV are probably "entireties property" though couches and TVs do not have titles.

None of the above matters until there is a death, divorce, bankruptcy, judgment....then, suddenly, it matters a lot.
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Friday, August 2, 2013, 11:02 AM
Posted by Administrator
When you go off to buy, for example, paper towels, you know what you're going to pay and what you're going to get. Squeeze the roll (my wife taught me this one) to see how much is air and how much is...paper towels. Think what you paid last time. Look to see how much Bounty paper towels are. And you're done. (See Note C, below.)

But, when you hire a plumber, mechanic, doctor, are probably out of your element. Unless you know enough plumbing to do the job yourself, you are going to have to accept what the plumber tells you needs to be done and the reasonableness of his bill. Same with the others. Do you really know what it will take to do your divorce?

So, in selecting a service provider, you've got a few choices and a few related problems.
1-Go to someone you've gone to before. But, will he/she take the return business as a sign that you trust him/her and jack up the bill knowing that you won't question it.
2-Go to someone to whom you are referred. There is the great temptation to say "My friend John Smith gave me your name." and, now you've got the same problem as in #1. Also, (credit here goes to Joe Trivisone who, 35 years ago, taught me how to sell computers "Nobody will admit to making a $100,000 mistake) nobody will admit to be dumb enough to hire a crappy lawyer who ripped them off. So, they'll recommend the idiot to you so they don't look bad. Unless you KNOW YOURSELF from your OWN PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE that your friend got a great job at a fair price, be wary of referrals.
3-Go to someone whose name you saw on the side of a truck or on a scrap of paper you found on the sidewalk. You might land up with someone horrible but, on the other hand, if they know that you know nothing about them, they will do their best to impress you with their work ethic, honesty and fairness. (But, see #1, above, regarding going back a second time.)
4-Go to someone to whom you are referred but don't tell them that it is a referral. Keep them guessing ("I really don't remember where I got your name.") Be nice...but give the impression that you are somewhere between an uneducated consumer and an FBI Agent.

I think that which of the above is the best idea is a toss-up between #3 and #4. Maybe #3 has a slight edge.

I'm not saying that there aren't honest mechanics, lawyers, doctors, plumbers, carpenters...out there. There are lots of them and lucky people will stumble on to them 9 times out of 10.

It's just us people who aren't so lucky who've got to think this through.

NOTE 1: And if you want to really get a bad deal, go immediately to the man/woman who gives you a low price on the phone. Once they get you in, they'll jack up the price. After all, if they don't get you in, they don't get a chance at your business. So, they low-ball.

NOTE 2: (We generally charge what we say we're going to and so do lots of other lawyers, doctors, mechanics, plumbers, appliance repair people, dentists, web designers, water treatment companies, nail salons, podiatrists, optometrists and, of course, piano tuners.)

NOTE 3: But don't buy a car from your friend (unless he/she is your BEST friend ...not your "BFF", your best friend). Car dealerships (and all other sales enterprises) encourage you to sell to your friends and, since they trust you and will buy from you and only you, you aren't likely to give them as good a deal as someone walking in off the street (whose business you've got to fight for). When I sold Volkswagens in New York (VW of Bayside, 1979-1981.....note that I am a University of Florida Law School graduate, 1983, so I'm not that much of a carpetbagger)....the people who paid the most for cars were the sales manager's "friends". (See Note 4)

NOTE 4: I must mention that the people who paid the most for cars were probably not the sales manager's friends, they were probably his brother's "friends". His brother you say?....."connected" and I think it went like this: "Hey Tony, you really need to go see my brother, Frank, about buying a car." There was a lot of money flowing around in those days and I do you a favor, you do me a favor, you do my brother a favor, my cousin does you a favor, my friend does you a favor, you did him a favor....then you go and do me another favor and buy a car from my brother. In some circles, a lot of money means a lot of "favors", too.
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I DON'T READ Steve Duhl 
Monday, July 29, 2013, 10:28 AM
Posted by Administrator
I'm sure I've written about this in the past but, figuring that nobody ever goes back and reads the old stuff (though you's better than the new stuff), I will take the chance of repeating myself. LAWYERS DON'T READ CONTRACTS.

Oh, they'll do it for clients if they get paid and then they'll give the client their opinion on the problems with signing. Usually, the party with the most power in the deal writes the contract and, depending on whether the other party has any power at all, may or may not agree to changes. In other words, if you're credit is crappy and you're lucky to get that landlord to lease you the apartment at're likely stuck signing whatever lease he/she puts in front of you. Lawyers are notorious for crapping up business deals by advising their clients not to sign ...what they perceive to be... one sided contracts.

When I sold Volkswagens (in the late 70's...before you were born), I noticed that dentists read the sales contract. So did accountants, taxi drivers, hot dog vendors and engineers. Lawyers just signed. At the time, I thought it was because lawyers could get out of any contract terms they didn't why bother reading. Later, I found out that lawyers didn't read because lawyers knew we weren't going to change the contract for them. You want the car? Sign the contract.

The world now is more complicated then it was in the late 70's (before you were born). There are contract for cell phones---that nobody reads; for internet purchases---that you click "I accept" without even bothering to look at the language; (yes, even for scooter rentals).

Recently, I've had a couple of clients who claim that they didn't sign the rental agreement for their credit card machine. There are two aspects to accepting credit cards at your business....1) the merchant gets charged a percentage of the sale for each transaction and a monthly fee and 2) you've got to own or rent the little machine that attaches to your phone line and prints the receipt. Some companies give great deals on the percentage but rip you off by renting you the equipment at an exorbitant rate.

So, here's what happens: The salesperson sells you on the great rate and sort of doesn't mention the rental cost of the little machine. He/she hands you a bunch of papers to sign and.....without sign where you're told. Turns've signed a lease agreement; you're stuck it for years; and you're paying a fortune for equipment you could have bought outright for $200.

One of my clients.....I believe based on signature analysis.....was ripped off the old fashioned way....the salesperson forged her signature. Another took a look at the papers and agreed that he'd signed.

When we got our credit card equipment, we did it the warm and fuzzy way: A client was working for a credit card processor company where one of the owners went to the same summer camp me and my sister went to. While I am always skeptical about doing business with people whom you "should" trust, the client+summer-camp-relation seemed too good to ignore. We bought our equipment for a couple hundred bucks and have merely had to pay the exorbitant monthly and transaction fees. We don't have a monthly lease payment and I don't feel too ripped off.

Should you read all contracts before you sign them? YES.
Will you? Of course not and neither will I.

Good news! Successful "merchant services" salespeople make a LOT of money.

*Come back to the blog in a few days for my explanation of why doing business with people you "should" trust is a crappy idea.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 11:53 PM
Posted by Administrator
A lot of lawyering involves sending letters: threatening letters, letters full of advice, demand letters, acceptance letters, engagement letters. Many of these are other words...the recipient did not ask for or want the letter. Collection letters are a good example. Nobody asks to be collected from.

Lawyer letters have to be distinguished from lawsuits. A phone call where the caller says "I got a letter from a lawyer." needs to be followed up with questions like:
-Did you get the letter in the mail or did someone deliver it?
-Is there anything about a court on the top of the letter? How about a case number?

Usually, the answer is, more or less "No, you idiot, it's a LETTER." But, sometimes the "letter" really is a lawsuit that the recipient didn't intend to take seriously. You can usually ignore a letter without peril but ignoring a lawsuit can be costly.

Lawyer letters you can probably ignore:
-Collection letters (especially letters from out-of-state lawyers)---if you're not going to/or can't pay, why be upset? Keep the letter so that you'll have an address to give, one day, to your bankruptcy attorney.
-Letters demanding something that you don't have----the name of your liability carrier when you don't have insurance, for example.
-Letters demanding that you stop doing something that you are sure that you have every right to do. "We represent your neighbor. You are hereby directed to stop parking your Snap On truck outside your house."

Responding shows fear. Showing fear means a follow-up threat is in order. Ignoring the letter shows that you have the guts not to feel threatened just because the letter was signed by a lawyer and it sends the message that following up on the letter could be a time-consuming, expensive and futile task....because you are no pushover.

Lawyer letters you shouldn't ignore:
-Letters that are really lawsuits, summonses, garnishments, writs, petitions.
-Letters that recite facts that aren't true, say you owe things you don't owe, or say you've done things that you haven't. Write back and say, more or less "The facts you recite in your letter of _________ aren't true." There is an argument that if a reasonable person would have denied it.......and you don't deny it.....then you've admitted and that implied admission can be used against you later, in a court case. (On the other hand, don't get excited about reciting your version of the facts....usually, it's enough to deny their version.)
-Letters advising you to do things that you really should do (or to not do things you shouldn't do): "We represent your neighbor, we're going to sue you if you keep on burning garbage on your front lawn." or "We're going to sue you if you keep download any more copyrighted songs."
-Letters about bad checks you've written; rent you haven't paid; things you (or your kid) have stolen.
-Letters from the Justice Department telling you that you are the target of a federal investigation.

Really, I think everyone knows the lawyer letters you shouldn't ignore. The problem is with people paying too much attention (with the attendant nervousness and anxiety and fear) to lawyer letters they should ignore.

Probably 90% of the unsolicited letters that lawyers send are a waste of paper. It's only the other 10% that are trouble.

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WHAT IS AN LLC? Bob Smith 
Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 12:19 PM
Posted by Administrator
Once, I wondered what an LLC was, so I asked my accountant. She said "I have no idea, it's some kind of business entity that you lawyers like." A few days later, I saw an older lawyer I sort of knew sitting in the back of a courtroom waiting for his case to be called. Since older people know more, I thought I'd ask him. "Oh," he said "an LLC is a type of business entity that accountants like."

One day, having nothing to do, I googled "LLC" and the returns I got were talking about a nation-wide LLC law modeled on the one they'be got in Delaware (Delaware's laws loves businesses and rich people---you should register your mega-yacht there). There were LLC seminars and webinars and all kinds of stuff directed at people who are a lot more interested in business entities than I am.

Years ago, I remember driving somewhere in the middle of Florida, which, except for Orlando is the middle of the middle of the night. On the car radio there was a talk show hosted by someone named "Bruce". I remember two things about "Bruce": 1) He said he was a licensed airplane pilot, and 2) He was missing a leg or part of a leg. His radio show was about advice for businesses. This is, more or less, what he said:

It doesn't matter much whether your business is a corporation, a subchapter S or an LLC. What you really need is insurance so that if you get sued, the insurance company will be around to defend you and pay anything that it takes to get rid of the complainant.

True, you cannot be sued personally for stuff your employee for the corporation you happen to own....any more than a shareholder in General Motors can get sued when one of their cars loses it's brakes and plows into a wall. But, what you really need is insurance....not just the theoretical shield that a corporation (or LLC) might provide.

Really, the type of business entity you should adopt when starting your business is more of an accounting or financing question than a legal question.

Rightly or wrongly, if your company gets sued and you don't have insurance, you could end up with a bill for dozens of thousands of dollars for the lawyer you're going to have to hire to defend against the claim. Trials take hundreds of hours to prepare for and weeks in court to reach a result. Corporations can't represent themselves in court....they've got to have lawyers (in Florida, Small Claims court is an exception).

Two other things:
1) If you, as owner, negligently caused damage, you can be sued personally. For example, if the owner of United Van Lines is driving one of their trucks and negligently hits someone crossing the street, the company can be sued and so can he (though the company insurance will likely cover him).
2) I remembered something else about "Bruce", the radio talk who host: he claimed he didn't own a car "It's cheaper...once you add in just rent monthly from Hertz.", he said. This was years ago, I think Hertz has since quit giving that bargain.

Editor's Note: Bob Smith is a retired Florida lawyer who now lives in Northern Wyoming, near the Canadian border.
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Saturday, April 27, 2013, 07:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
We always strive to avoid giving practical advice...preferring, instead, to pontificate and tell odd stories. Still, sometimes it hits you in the face.

When you buy a new, boats, planes, trains, computers, cheese automatically and by operation of law get a "warranty". The warranty gives you the right to go after the manufacturer and seller and get damages if the product isn't as good as any other similar products that might be out there and/or doesn't do the job the salesperson/advertising/packaging said the product would do. In other words, computers have to be able to compute and if you the salesman tells you that you can produce 4-D movies on had better have some serious graphics cards. (There is a 4th dimension....right?)

Of course, you don't really get these warranties because your sales agreement/invoice/purchase order says "THERE IS NO WARRANTY OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE" and then goes on to describe the 'LIMITED WARRANTY' that you do get....which isn't near the warranty you would have operation of law, but for the disclaimer. So, computers don't have to compute and the bicycle you buy for your kid can be ten feet tall.

Really, I got on to this subject because I just bought a pressure washer to wash some color out of my deck. The men who redid the deck ignored what color we told them we wanted and stained the deck a dark brown that reminds us of .................

Anyway, when I unpacked the pressure washer, the first thing I saw was a NOTICE that said that if there was any problem/question/concern about the pressure washer I should ABSOLUTELY NOT return it to Home Depot...I should, instead, contact the manufacturer. I had seen similar notices before in computers and put-it-together-yourself furniture boxes and I hadn't thought much about it. But, when I saw the notice this time, I had an epiphany.

Now that I am involved in the other business, people tell me things that I don't hear about in the lawyer business. And, I'd heard from a couple of people about some fairly new companies who were selling their technologically based products to big box stores. They knew they'd make a lot more money selling to Costco and Home Depot and Walmart than they would selling to little, neighborhood retailers.

But, the deal with the big box stores I learned was this: If a customer returned a product to the store, the supplier/manufacturer/distributor had 30 days to pick the item up or it would be thrown in the dumpster. Also, the store would take a credit for the wholesale cost against what it owed. After Christmas, for example, there would be thousands of items returned....millions of dollars the supplier/manufacturer/distributor would never see...and lots of expensive circuit board laden product in the dumpster. After all, it isn't economically sensible to send a truck around to all of the big box stores across the 50 states to pick up the returns.

So, the NOTICE in the pressure cleaner box wasn't really advice about how to deal with warranty claims, it was a plea not to take the product back to the store. DEAL WITH US, it begged. WE'LL SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

Luckily for the pressure cleaner worked! Otherwise, it was going back to the store.

There is a lesson in all of this: Who cares about warranties, limited warranties, or warranty disclaimers? We all do in the case of expensive products and products bought from stores without liberal return policies (ever try returning a Ford to the Ford dealer?). But, for the first 30 days (or whatever the particular store's policy is) after purchase, if there's a problem.....dump the product on the return desk of wherever you bought it.


Editor's Note: Smith reports that he wrote the above at the Tim Hortons in the Walmart on Strachan Rd. in Medicine Hat. Bob says, "My Tim Bits ....1/2 Apple Fritter and 1/2 Dutchie... too much sugar for my liver but at least they weren't imported from China."
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THINKING BACK (renamed, because I have no confidence in my spelling of the word "reminiscing") Bob Smith 
Friday, April 5, 2013, 09:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
I was talking to my niece, Caitlin Boylan, this evening, about her brother, my nephew, having to write a family history. He had sent me an email asking me about his mother, when she was younger. I suggested he call me on the phone. So far, no call.

Here is a story I might tell him.

Once upon a time North of Boulder, Colorado, I was riding with his mother in my blueish-green Ford Econoline van. It was the first car I ever owned. I bought it with $1,500 bribed from my parents when I suggested to my mother that I might stay for a second year of college...if I had a car. The Econoline had two seats in front, a three-on-a-tree manual transmission (the shifter jutted out of the steering column) and a platform bed in back---a pretty good job of platform bed construction, likely the handiwork of the van's original owner.

It was the summer of '71 or '72 and my sister had decided to take some summer courses at the University of Colorado at the same time I had decided to spend the summer living 30 miles South, in Denver. I had driven North from Denver to pick her up for a day trip and we were driving towards Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park which begins on the edge of Estes. Since it was the 70's, we were smoking a joint.

A few miles North of Boulder I saw the blue lights of a Colorado Highway Patrol car in my side view mirror. I pulled over. In keeping with Standard-Operating-Procedure in the 70's for traffic stops while your car smelled of pot, I exited the van and walked back to the van's rear bumper to wait for the trooper.

So, here I was...a teenager (I was 17) with shoulder length hair who smelled of pot...waiting by the bumper of his pot-smoke-filled van for the Colorado State Police. I do not remember being nervous.

After a moment, the trooper...looking very tall and stern... walked over and said to a serious tone: "You need to take the FOR SALE sign out of the van's rear window. You're not allowed to block your view to the rear with a FOR SALE sign." Now, though it requires that I dredge back into the far-long-ago-never-reaches of my memory, looking backward through the hazy-fog-of-time, it is my firm recollection that I responded as follows:


I got back in the van, hunched under the low roof and shuffled to the back and took the FOR SALE sign out of the window. Then, my sister and I continued our drive to Estes and the park.

These day, police go to police school to learn how to turn a traffic stop into an arrest. The driver is instructed to stay in the car so the cop has an excuse to come up to the driver's window and can look for contraband in the within the driver's arm's reach for weapons....demand IDs from the passengers to run them for arrest warrants. Cops learn that a traffic stop is the opportunity to solve a larger crime and to arrest big criminals.

Back the 70's traffic stops were about something giving traffic tickets. Or, for the trooper who stopped me North of Boulder, getting me to take the FOR SALE sign out of the van's window.

Editor's Note: Bob Smith is a retired South Florida lawyer who now makes his home a few hundred miles North of Boulder, in Northern Wyoming. He writes for the blog mostly from one of the 9 Tim Hortons Donut shops in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 01:31 PM
Posted by Administrator
So, there I was, innocently writing an email that had the word "lawyer" in it. Also, it had the word "attorney".

Suddenly, I looked up and, at the top of my computer screen, there was a line across the top that I had never seen before. Across the line it read: "SMITH AND JONES. We eat bad lawyers for breakfast. It's time to eat." (Editor's Note: The law firm name: SMITH AND JONES is made up ....and, not very imaginatively.)

I clicked on the line and was delivered by the miracle of the world-wide-web to the SMITH AND JONES website where the first picture was one of SMITH, a man who I have known for 25 years. The next picture was of SMITH, along with Jones (who I do not know) and behind each was a well-dressed, attractive woman. I would have supposed that the women were their secretaries and were not just models posing behind them to support the evident truth that "Behind every successful man is a good woman." But, I did not have to suppose this because behind SMITH was my daughter's-friend's-mother who is, in fact, SMITH'S secretary.

I certainly agree that in this county full of lawyer TV ads; bus bench ads; back of bus ads; billboards; top of taxi-cab ads; and radio ads (friends of mine here recently from New York---a bastion of bad taste---commented at their amazement at the amount of lawyer advertising that goes on here)...lawyers on a budget have to advertise somewhere. And, internet ads that appear on email sites keying off the contents of the users emails seem like a reasonable place to start. (Though an awfully intrusive place---especially for lawyers who ought to be promoting things like privacy and confidentiality).

But, in any event, do these lawyers have to "eat bad lawyers"? Can't they just be good lawyers themselves and "beat" bad lawyers?Couldn't they "try hard and get good results"; be "experienced and eager"; "aggressive and fair"; "well funded but hungry"; "young and energetic"; "well dressed and well mannered"; "professional and proficient"?

I'm not sticking up for bad lawyers but why would you interrupt my email writing to say that you want to eat them?

Editor's Note: Jesus Rabinowitz continues to work on his second book, THE DAY BEGAN QUITE WELL, from his home East of Jacksonville. He learned from the episode above to avoid using the internet while visiting South Florida.

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Friday, February 22, 2013, 07:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
ABD90J might have been the license tag number of the woman I almost met this evening while she was driving a gold Taurus (or Sebring), possibly drunk and certainly irate, through Riviera Beach. I was innocently driving the other businesses 2 stroke Kymco 50cc scooter North on Australian Ave on my way home. Another two wheeler driver, some guy on a cruiser-bike, had just blasted past, swerved clumsily around a car 100' ahead of me (cruisers are not good swervers), stopped for a red light in the left turn lane and then, when the light changed, blasted in front of the waiting cars---heading straight down the road.

I noticed that the car to my rear was following just a few feet behind my scooter. The Kymco tops out at around 47mph so I wasn't holding anybody up (which can happen on slower scooters). I turned around to glare at the tailgater (or at least, try to glare.... past my helmet, with glasses on, at night). As traffic slowed for another red light, the tailgater began to move to the right to pass me, then appeared to decide that moving to the other lane was too much trouble, and pulled along side of me---in my lane----giving me the impression that she wanted to squeeze me into the far left part of the lane, next to the curb...or, maybe, squeeze me right into the curb. The tailgater stopped with the driver's door 2 or 3 feet to my right.

"Get the fuck out of my way", the driver angrily said to me out of the open window of the car. She was a small, thirty-ish woman with bleached-brown/red hair. She had a 3/4 smoked cigarette clamped between her thin, lipsticked lips. Her face was shiny. She furrowed her forehead as she spoke.

The light changed. She drove ahead of me. I followed. I thought she was probably drunk. "Maybe I'll see a cop.", I thought to myself and, a moment later, I saw a Sheriff's car in the left lane, headed the opposite direction, getting read to turn left. I pulled up along side the Sheriff's car using the median to shield me from traffic.

"ABD90J", I said. I had been repeating the license number in my head so I wouldn't forget it. I figured he would write it down. He didn't. I repeated the number...I realized he wasn't going to write it down but I still thought I should try to remember it.

"A woman tried to run me off the road. I think she's drunk." I said. "I'll radio someone down the road", he said. But, he didn't move towards his radio. Then, he said "I'll see if I can turn around." It didn't seem that it would be that hard to make a u-turn in a police car from the left lane of a four lane road so I wondered why he doubted his ability.

He did make the turn and we drove for a while looking for ABD90J. But, ABD90J was gone. She had turned into a sidestreet, gotten so far ahead of us that she'd made the light on Blue Heron, or exploded in her own anger into a cloud of invisible stardust.....maybe all three.

The Deputy was behind me. I shrugged my shoulders and waved to him as I turned left onto Blue Heron and headed home.

What is the reason that people insist on driving around in cars and not bicycles or scooters or motorcycles----especially at night during rush hour? I can't remember.
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Saturday, February 16, 2013, 10:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
For years, I have believed that the decision whether or not to file bankruptcy...for people with good credit but lots of debt....revolved around the price of their good credit. The price of good credit (for those who've got it) is easy to figure: monthly interest on debt X 12 months. For example, if you owe $20,000 in credit card debt and the average interest rate is 18% then you are paying $3,600 per year...$300 per month to keep your credit cards from going in the hole. This amount is exclusive of the amount you've got to send each month to pay down the debt. And paying down debt has become more important in the past year or two as how much you owe (relative to your credit limit) has become a more important part of your credit rating.

So, is it worth $300++ per month to keep good credit. Or, would you be better off spending $4,000 every year on a trip to Hawaii. Pay the money, keep your credit but forgo the trip. The Hawaii trip (for those who like far off middle-of-the-Pacific islands) is the cost of keeping good credit. Alternatively, (assuming you can) file bankruptcy, wreck your credit, but surf the giants. (Editor's Note: The blog does not suggest...regardless of your credit...that the only giants to be surfed are in Hawaii. The blog notes, for example, Mavericks...which is somewhere off the coast of Northern California, South of S.F.).

There are costs to everything good in life. Credit, cars, trucks, jewelry...even honesty. But, until today...when I sold my silver 2007 Vespa LX150 motor scooter to a kid from Venezuela, I had never quantified the cost of honesty. Here's what happened.

After the kid tried to beat me down on the price ("I've only got $2,400."), then took a $100 bill out of his wallet when I refused to back off $2,500... and after the paperwork was done, the kid started with the usual song and dance of buyers facing sales tax at the Tax Collector's Office when they go Monday morning to register their new/used car, truck, boat, scooter. "Just sign the title and leave it blank.", he said. "Make the mileage lower then it actually is." (I never understood the idea with this one). "I'll write in the amount I paid." I told him the tax people will check. "They don't check with scooters.", he said.

I sell things from time to time and I never understand why buyers want to involve me in their conspiracy to defraud the tax people but they always do. I handed him the title. I'd written in $2,500 for the price...which is what it was.

But, a few minutes later, when I handed him the key, I gave him $40. Why I felt obliged to give him money to make up for his unhappiness at having to pay the actual sales tax due, I do not know. But, on the other hand, at least I discovered the price of honesty.

It's forty bucks.
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THINGS I WILL NOT Jesus Rabinowitz 
Saturday, January 19, 2013, 08:57 AM
Posted by Administrator
Recently, a man came to see me about a divorce. I asked him why he wanted one. I didn't ask because I was interested in knowing about his personal life or because I thought that finding out the reason behind his failed marriage might provide entertaining fodder for the book I am writing, I asked so that I could perhaps get some insight into:
-How his wife thinks.
-Whether something was going on that could impact the divorce, for example, adultery-alimony; sleeping around-time sharing with the kids; taking expensive solo vacations-equitible distribution of property, etc.
-Whether something was going on that would affect the timing of the divorce, for example, we might be in more of a rush to get it done if he were chomping at the bit to run off with someone else.

Here was his answer: "I love my wife but her best friend is going to get deported."
So, he wanted to divorce his wife and marry his wife's best friend to keep her in the country.

While I am personally fine with letting everyone in the country---after all, the government let in my grandparents back around the turn of the century----I am sort of against perpetrating a fraud on the government. To marry the best friend, the man would have to get a divorce. To get divorced in Florida, your marriage has to be "irretrievably broken". It didn't seem to me that this mans' marriage was broken at all. So, the required in-court testimony that the marriage was irretrievably broken would be perjury (though, I admit I am a simple man and maybe it wouldn't be a lie at all---just a strange way of fun'in with the Court).

And (though I imagine the Feds have better things to do than to pursue a dumb lawyer for getting in the middle of this), if I helped the man get a divorce so that he could illicitly marry the best friend++...knowing his plan...wouldn't I be part of a conspiracy to commit immigration fraud? I think so.

After I told the man that I wasn't going to get involved, he asked me for a referral to another lawyer. I told him "no". My thought at the time was that I wasn't going to intentionally dump this trouble on some other ...perhaps, naive and My thought a second later was the whole being "part of the conspiracy thing" that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

I don't want to be preachy but it's a dangerous legal world out there. When your kid gets asked by a classmate "Do you know anybody who sells pot?" and sends the person asking off to the pot dealer----they're part of a conspiracy to distribute marijuana. When the marijuana is a pain pill, there could be a 20 year mandatory minimum in prison attached to the referral.

And, the asker could be working for the cops. Lots of people get arrested and are turned into informants and plants and secret agents so that their own criminal cases get a better result. The best and quickest way to make your police handlers happy and to get others arrested is to solicit crimes. Don't wait for crime to happen and rat out the perpetrator........ask your friends and people you know to become criminals.

Do I think the man who wanted a divorce worked for the cops? No.
Do I think the person who asks her friend at school where to buy pain pills does? Probably.

Editor's Note: Jesus Rabinowitz writes (and, if the above is any example, rambles) for the blog from his home East of Jacksonville, Florida.

++ Marriage happens when two of age, mentally competent possession of a marriage license....more or less simultaneously express their desire to be married to each other in front of someone with the legal authority (judge, minister, notary public) to declare them to be married....and to sign the marriage license. EXCEPT that a "marriage" entered into for the purpose of adjusting someone's immigration status doesn't count as a real marriage. (Also, on the subject of adjusting immigration status....with some exceptions, if the non-resident is in the US illegally, they will have to leave the country to pick up their papers and they may not be allowed back into the US for ten years.)
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Monday, September 24, 2012, 07:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
Recently, a good friend of mine volunteered me to be his corporate lawyer. Like so many people, he was having a problem with a man who owned an apple orchard making claim that my friend owed him for 30 bales of hay the man said he bought because the ground was wet from recent rains. Were it not for the hay, my friend's catering tents would have collapsed when the tent poles gave way or when the tent stakes lost their hold or wedding guests would have been dancing in mud.........or something. The orchard owner said my friend owed him $240 for the hay. I got off the phone believing my friend should pay the $240. I believed that the man did buy hay and that it was not unreasonable to buy it and that my friend benefitted from the hay.

This exact dispute probably happens ten times a day when caterers rent land from apple growers to put up wedding tents and it rains a lot.

Anyway, the apple grower called me and we got along fine. Just because there is a dispute, doesn't mean you've got to act like an ass. So, I was very surprised when the man's lawyer called me 20 minutes later. (Note that when we spoke, he never even implied he had a lawyer. Had he, I would have followed the rule that says lawyers can't speak to represented parties about the matter in dispute.) This is how the conversation went.

Me: You know that this whole thing is about $240.

...there was more...the apple lawyer's yelling went on until he finally hung up on me. I didn't yell back because...what was I going to say? And how would I say it loud enough to drown him out? Also, he seemed a little worked up and it is tough to reason with worked up lawyers. The lawyer seemed...taking the hay dispute more personally than his client was.

Before, during and after the apple lawyer's phone call, my advice to my friend was: Pay him the $240. "Don't give the money to the lawyer," I said "that will just show the orchard owner that if he calls his crazy, yelling lawyer he'll get what he wants." I always advise my clients not to encourage bad behavior.

I believe the apple lawyer yelled at me because that is what he thought lawyers did. All of this happened a couple of hours North of a big City. It is my belief and experience that big City lawyers are calm and courteous and don't take disputes personally....even when they involve hay. But, it is also my belief that upstate lawyers probably believe that bit City lawyers are mean and tough and screaming and intimidating. And, because they feel the big City lawyers are at the top of the heap of lawyerdom, they are likely to yell and scream and do their best imitation of what they perceive a big City lawyer would do. Even though the big City lawyer wouldn't.

I'm not saying that lawyers here don't yell and scream at each other. But, I don't think things start out that way. (Even if it involves hay.)
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Saturday, September 15, 2012, 10:25 AM
Posted by Administrator
Most lawsuits.....divorces, injury cases, contract claims......settle our of court and without a trial. Settlement is cheaper, quicker, and doesn't have the high-blood-pressure element of surprise when the judge or jury comes back with some decision that makes no sense at all (to makes perfect sense to the party on the other side).

But, some lawsuits can't settle. Here is why:

A tall man with three gold teeth walks into a lawyers' office with papers he's just been served. His wife is suing him for divorce. She has the house, the Jaguar, and the family dog. He left the house with nothing but one set of clothes and an insulated coffee mug.

Along with the Petition and the Summons he's just been handed is a letter from his wife's lawyer. The letter says: "Your wife is willing to keep what she's got and settle the case right now if you don't ask for anything back."

The lawyer should tell the man to agree to the wife's deal: He makes a lot more money then she does; it is a long term marriage; there isn't much equity in the house; Jaguar's break down.... But, the lawyer has bills to pay and places to travel to, so, instead, he tells the man "Your wife isn't entitled to anything, you hire me and I'll take are of it."

When the parties go to court ordered mediation, the Wife repeats her offer. But, the husband's lawyer has got to produce something to justify his fee and to justify his teling his client to fight.

So, the case will never settle. Eventually, it will go to trial and some judge somewhere will be the one to tell the man the bad news. ...that he'll be paying her alimony for the rest of his life. The man's lawyer will say "That judge is an idiot. You were railroaded. We need to appeal to a higher court." Of course, appeals aren't free, either.

Note: A lot of lawyers---maybe even the vast majority--- would have told the man "Take her deal or you're an idiot."
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Friday, September 7, 2012, 02:22 PM
Posted by Administrator
A lot of people tell me that they don't own their house---the bank does. While this is poetic, it is not the truth. Whether or not you've got a mortgage, you own your house. The bank may be able to foreclose the mortgage and get the Clerk of Court to sell your house at public sale, but, in the meantime, it is your house.

You may not want your house. For example, if you own a condominium...and you don't live don't really want to have to pay the Homeowner's Association their monthly maintenance. But, it remains your responsibility to pay for as long as you are the owner. And a bankruptcy won't get you out of this liability (at least for the maintainence that accrued after the bankruptcy was filed).

On the other hand, in the middle of not paying your mortgage, you can rent your house out and keep the rental money (at least until there is a Court order to the contrary). You could sell the house without paying off the long as the buyer knew about the mortgage and the buyer knew that he/she could only keep the house until the mortgagee foreclosed. I know someone who moved into his house in Boca after he bought out the Homeowner's Association's interest at the HOA's foreclosure sale (the owner didn't pay monthly maintence). There is still a mortgage on the house...and he isn't paying it. One day, the mortgagee might foreclosue and one day he'll probably have to move out. But living in a house in free...for three years on a $1,500 investment is not a shabby deal.

If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy....and you own a house...and you don't want to pay for careful about what you claim in your Bankruptcy Petition. Make a mistake and the bankruptcy will get you debt-free...but you wil be living in your uncle's garage.

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DEBTOR'S Steve Duhl 
Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 08:25 PM
Posted by Administrator
You cannot go to jail merely for owing money to a creditor unless you live in...for instance...Saudi Arabia. Really, lots of countries do have debtor's prison. Here in the US, we don't. You can go to jail for not paying some things:
-Money you owe as part of probation on a criminal charge.
-Money you owe for child support or alimony.
But, you can't go to jail for owing Bank of America or Sears or CitiBank or your lawyer (though we're working to change that last one).

On the other hand, as a consequence of owing money, you can go to jail IF YOU TRY HARD ENOUGH. Here is what you need to do:
1) Owe money.
2) Get sued.
3) Lose the lawsuit and have a judgment entered.
4) Ignore the deadline to give financial information to the judgment creditor (or ignore that you have been served with papers to appear for a deposition to give testimony about your assets).
5) Ignore the Order requiring you to go to court and explain to the Judge why you didn't do what you were supposed to do. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO MISS THE DEADLINE...YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE JUDGE ISSUES AN ORDER REQUIRING YOU TO EXPLAIN WHY YOU MISSED IT AND IGNORE THAT TOO.

At any time, you could do the paperwork (or sit for the deposition) and that would take care of things. But, if you wonder whether you can go to jail for ignoring court orders, here is the answer: YES. The local courts can tell the Sheriff to pick you up and keep you until you do what you were ordered to do. A Federal Judge has got the US Marshals.

HERE IS SOMETHING SURPRISING. You can probably get out of it by filing for bankruptcy. But...please don't let it go that far.

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Monday, July 2, 2012, 02:40 PM
Posted by Administrator
Tax refunds are great. I used last year's refund to buy a lever action .22 rifle and a GPS that I could stand in the exact spot where Northern Wyoming and Canada meet and shoot at Canadian rabbits from the American side.

I missed.

But, do you really want a refund? Sure...if you've got plans to go to Hawaii. Not so much if you are going to file bankruptcy, because, if you file towards the end of the year....or before you get and spend your refund (in some legitimate way like fixing your roof or your teeth) may lose it to the Court-appointed Trustee. (Note that some portion of your refund may be exempt under bankruptcy law because it is in the nature of welfare for your they can come with you to Hawaii.)

If you owe back child support, your State may take your refund. Of course, you should support your kids and you are a schmuck if you don't pay your child support. Still, even schmucks have rights....just not as many of them as nice people do.

Should you go to your personnel department, the person who writes your payroll, or whoever figures your deductions and tell them you have more kids then you thought you did???? Increase your exemptions to make sure any entitlement you had to a refund will disappear by year's end? Is it legal to fix it so the IRS doesn't hold on to your money until next February or March or November?

I have no idea.

Editor's Note: Bob Smith is a retired South Florida lawyer who writes from his home in Northern Wyoming or from his favorite table at the Tim Horton's Donuts in Medicine Hat (2355 Trans Canada Way in Alberta....there are, of course, several Tim Horton locationsin Medicine Hat.)

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THE END OF THE Steve Duhl 
Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 12:27 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yesterday, I thought I had my step-daughter's junky Monte Carlo sold for $1,200. Three men...two very large and one medium size...had come. The medium size man...after they'd started the engine and poked around the car...came over to me and said "So,we have a deal." He extended his hand to me. I said "$1,200." He said "Yes.". We shook.

Later in the day, the three men came back. This time, they brought two young girls----kids----around 3 and 5 years old. I thought the medium size man with whom I had the handshake deal would pay me and, like he said he would do, have the car towed away.

Instead, he took out a big gas can. "Do you have a funnel?", he asked. I brought him a funnel. They ran the car. "Do you have any automatic transmission fluid?", he asked. I didn't.

I said: "I thought you were going to pay me and have the car towed away." He said "You didn't tell me the transmission didn't work." I said "I didn't tell you anything about the transmission. You said you were going to have it towed. The ad says that the car runs but does not drive." "Well," he said "how do you expect me to get it home."

I did not say: "I expect you to have it towed like you said you were going to back when we made the handshake deal at $1,200."
What was the point? After 57 years of making handshake deals that ALWAYS were honored (I assume I was making them in the cradle), the handshake deal was dead. Was the medium size man dishonest? Had he never heard that "A deal is a deal."?

Probably not......he and his friends were just wastes of time.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 10:24 AM
Posted by Administrator
Though I believe (after some research) that I am the only Steven Duhl and, certainly, I am the only steveduhl website....still, I don't own my name. Well, I think I may own But, I know I don't own That name is owned by my original website designer who has, I believe, forgotten the secret code that would allow me to pay the company that REALLY owns my name. Dotster? Mobster? somethingSTER.

So, will expire. After a while, it will go back up for sale. Then, I could buy it.

Or, YOU could buy it. ...if you buy it, I hope you will use it to peddle something socially useful----renewable engergy or a cover for the hole in the ozone layer-----or, twizzlers.

In the meantime, you can find me at Or, better yet, just visit or Yes, there is a steve duh and a stevedahl. And, they are probably smart enough to have made sure that they own their names. Actually, Dahl will probably buy mine.
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Friday, May 11, 2012, 10:05 PM
Posted by Administrator
As part of our effort to combat excessive wordiness, we've streamlined our home page. If anyone has suggestions on how we might decrease the wordiness further, please let us know.
add comment ( 1 view )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 2.8 / 254 ) Steve Duhl 
Saturday, May 5, 2012, 03:26 PM
Posted by Administrator
The never-completed website...which was intended to put iscootpalmbeach into the ecommence business...selling ebikes with payment through it's first order! This is the story of why we cancelled it.

PayPal notified us of the order but said the address couldn't be confirmed so they weren't necessarily going to pay us back if the credit card was bogus. I googled the address and saw that it belonged to a Maine customs company on the other side of the river from Canada. I emailed the customer...who turned out to be from New Brunswick... and told him that we weren't going to ship there. He offered to wire me the money.

I emailed the ebike supplier, ejoe. They said "We won't ship to Canada." The buyer asked me why they won't sell to Canada. I said "Maybe lawsuits." but, really I did not know. (Later, the company told me "We don't even have the bike.")

I offered up a used bike and the buyer's response, more or less, was this:

'I looked at Canadian electric bike import regulations and it seems that the bike will make it through customs,but, if it does't, will you give me my money back.'

Suddenly, I saw it!,that's why they don't sell to Canada.

Note: iScootPalmBeach's ecommerce website came down, today, at its attorney's insistence.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 10:18 AM
Posted by Administrator
To briefly recap: client signs Release before getting on dive boat and the breaks her ankle exiting boat when she gets it caught in the slats of the boat's dive platform. And, in my mind, the dive boat's owner was negligent in having that type of platform because it was sized perfectly for diver's swim fins to get caught as they took their last step off the boat and plunged into the deep.

But, the trial court judge threw the case out because the client had signed that Release and the Release operated to absolve the dive boat operator of liability for her injuries...whether or not the injuries were his...his company's...or the boat's fault. I had thought...because of what my father (the boy's clothing buyer) had told me before I skated at Hall's pond...that Releases had no effect. "Of course you couldn't have someone sign away their right to sue obvious negligence...that would just encourage uncaring, bad behavior", I thought.

I did research.... Nothing. I called a lawyer I know who was doing a lot of admiralty (maritime) law to see if the fact that the accident took place in navigable waters...on the high seas...would make a different. "No.", he said. "You're screwed."

So, after we were thrown out by the trial court, I filed an appeal with the local Court of Appeals. I did not yet know exactly the grounds for the appeal...but there had to be somegrounds...right?

The Appeals Court...was making litigants go to mediation at the beginning of their appal to try to settle so that the Appeals Judges would have less work to do. The Defendants offered $10,000.

We took it.

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CREATING A MEMORY Jesus Rabinowitz 
Friday, April 20, 2012, 02:19 PM
Posted by Administrator
Sometimes, it is a good idea to take notes...near to the time that the incident you are taking notes about refresh your recollection if, for instance, you sue and years later find yourself testifying. "Do you remember exactly what happened?", your lawyer will ask. "No.", you will say. "Do you have anything that will refresh your recollection?" "Yes, these notes I took right after it happened." The Court will let you look at your notes. The notes might read:

-2:22PM, Thursday, April 20, 2012. A's Jeep running poorly. Told B @ X repair shop that Advanced Auto's computer showed a bad distributor and reminded B that they had just replaced the distributor. Left car w/B @8:30AM. @1:32, B called and said it was fuel pump. Part cost $450 but w/labor would be under $500. B said couldn't cut part cost 'cause markup only 10-15% but wld "work w/me" on labor. Went to Advanced Auto. Told pump cost approx. $210. Went to mechanic OC, told his part cost was $193. OC & I agreed pump cld explain hard start but not rough idle. Really, OC had tested codes on 4/19 and said showed distributor....(I lied to B about who ran test so he wldn't think I was mechanic shopping. Had called B @ 1:46 and said I'd texted A who said she had no $ and would live w/Jeep as it is....also lie...had told B that we wld pick up car.) When I told B that A's friends had replaced pump, he said probably only pump and no "pump assembly". I confirmed with both Advanced and OC that pump price included everything usually installed w/pump replacement. Returned to office from OC @ 2:19.-

Get dates of phone calls from your phone. Write them down. Judges are impresed when someone knows the time that something happened. Remember exactly what was said? Write it down. Be upfront about white lies you told to spare feelings...or to avoid being unduly confrontational.

And make your notes as soon as you can because your memory will fade quickly

B's memory about his plan to make more money from A's car may fade ... Mine won't.

Note: Here's another example...

At 5:17, B called and left a message on my cellphone voicemail..."I found a cheaper pump.".......5:27PM 4-20

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HALLS POND.........continued from below 
Thursday, April 19, 2012, 01:51 PM
Posted by Administrator
THE SCUBA DIVER was a woman from slightly upstate New York who went out on a dive boat out of the Riviera Beach Marina. The boat was the usual thing....a large, open deck with racks for scuba gear; a small cabin ...where the head probably was; and a flybridge up above the deck from where the Captain ran things. Attached to the stern and accessible through a small door in the transom was a large "swim platform". The divers were instructeed to don their equipment on deck...including swim fins. Then, to walk through the transom door onto the platform and then walk off the end of the platform and take a big final step into the water.

The platform was made of strips of wood about 2" in width staggered in a grid so that the wood alternated with open space. The openings let water flood the platform as the boat's stern came down in the water and let water drain quickly when a swell pick the stern up in the air. A moment before my (future) client took her final step into the water, her swim fin caught in the space between two strips of wood and, as her body continued forward, her ankle snapped...a victim of that law of physics that says "A body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force." For my client, the body in motion was.....her body....while the body at rest was...for the moment before her ankel snapped... her foot.

Before my client had stepped onto the boat (and, after a car trip across the state from Tampa), the boat operator asked her to sign a Release that said, more or less...."You can't sue us for damages if you are injured, even if the injury was the result of our negligence."

Of course, we did the obvious: we filed suit.

To be continued.

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HALLS Steve Duhl 
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 11:13 AM
Posted by Administrator
When I was a kid growing up on a large island, slightly off the coast of New York, called "Long", we lived a few miles from a pond called Hall's Pond and...because this was before "global warming", the pond froze solid every winter. Or, was it frozen solid? Who knew?

Near the pond was a sign that said "SKATE AT YOUR OWN RISK" and, anticipating my future profession---I guess, I remember asking my father at a very young age (for both of us, looking back) "What does the sign mean?" And my father said, more or less, "They want you to think that if you fall through the ice and hurt yourself or die, that you can't sue the county but, really, you can." And so based upon my father's legal analysis (he was a buyer of boy's clothing for department stores), I concluded that Releases were of no effect.

So, I thought, if I signed a piece of paper relieving the go-kart guy from liability for injuries caused to me while I was careening his go-kart wildly across his go-kart track...I could sue him anyway if I were injured. And, if I walked past a sign marking the edge of a ski trail that said "SKI AT YOUR OWN RISK"...and I busted a leg because there was a stump the ski area operator should have discovered...I could dump a lawsuit on the ski area like it was nobody's business.

Later in life, I went to law school-----where Releases were not mentioned while I was paying attention (I did very well in law school, so that was most of the time). Later than that, I started lawyering...which is when you beign to actually learn stuff.

One day, I got a call from a woman who broke her ankle stepping off of a dive boat out of the Riviera Beach Marina.

To be coninued.......NOTE: As I was writing this, two men came in with copies of a tourist magazine iScootPalmBeach is advertising in . One of them told me that he was the marketing director for an Orlando "indoor skydiving" attraction (you "fly" in a plexiglass vacumne tube). He began telling me the states and countries that visitors to the vacume tube came from. I was asked him how he knew. He said "Everyone has to sign a release and we get their zip code when they do." I showed him this blog entry and said "I was writing this when you walked in."
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Thursday, February 23, 2012, 11:40 AM
Posted by Administrator
The Professional Association (a version of a corporation) got a letter the other day from a collection agency. The collector claimed that we owed their client $900. Their client was ATT Advertising with which I have had a continuing dispute........I say they didn't give me what I was contractually entitled to. From what I can gather, ATT says (or, at least, implies) 'We're bigger than you, we can do what we want.' Really, they've agreed I owe nothing....but, corporate minds change (I guess).

This situation got me thinking about the contract. Not the attorney's fees provision that says that if we don't pay, they get their (presumably enormous) fees for collecting from us (the flip side if that, if they lose, we get our fees from them)... but, the VENUE provision of the contract that says, more or less: ALL LAWSUITS UNDER THIS CONTRACT WILL TAKE PLACE IN ALASKA. ..or whatever State they chose. After all, they wrote the contract and they didn't write it with an eye to making it easy for us to sue them. They want to make it easy for them to sue us.

Companies almost always limit lawsuits to a location of their choice. iScootPalmBeach (the scooter/electric bike company in which the writer has an interest)chooses Palm Beach County as venue for any lawsuits in it's contract. "Venue" is, simply, where the lawsuit is going to be. If a party to a contract filed a a lawsuit in S. Dakota and the contract says venue is Hawaii, the S. Dakota judge---when he or she is asked--will dismiss the case with instructions to the Plaintiff to pack a surfboard.

It is awfully, awfully inconvenient and expensive to have to sue or defend in some far off place. Still, we sign contracts every day agreeing to do exactly that.

I'm hoping ATTs' contract sets venue in Aspen, Colorado------something has to get me skiing again.
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Thursday, February 9, 2012, 11:58 AM
Posted by Administrator
I hope you have seen the TV commercial for .xxx ...the commercial where the meek-looking man gets chased by a gang of thugs. The upshot of the ad is that if your business doesn't buy .xxx (along with .com and .net and .org and .co)...someone else will buy the domain and you will be the victim of blackmail. The Ford Motor Company does not want someone to open a site called The whole triple X thing means porn....not nice 4 door cars for happy families. So, the owner of could put porn on the site and then call Ford and say: "You need to pay me to close the site down." It was surprising to see a TV commercial that amounted to blackmail, but, there it was.

Really, though, it's not blackmail unless the blackmailer is threatening illegal/immoral/or unethical activity if you don't pay/obey/desist from doing something. There is nothing wrong with my saying, for example, I will say nice things about your business on my blog if you give me a discount on the product I am about to buy. Or, that I will write a truthful piece commenting about how you did me wrong if you don't fix it. Though, it would be blackmail to say: "I'll trash your company if you don't pay me money not to."

For example, I believe that in my other business I am being overcharged for a product. I have told the seller that if they reduce the price, I will write something nice about the product on that other company's blog.

Note: There will never be a ...maybe, if I was younger.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 06:49 AM
Posted by Administrator
Filing bankruptcy requires the filer (debtor) to value their own property...reasonably and honestly. Divorce requries the same do loan applications and college financial aid applications. Here are some guidelines:
-Usually, the question is what you could sell it for...not what you bought it for. You are not a used furniture dealer---though you do have a front lawn ready for a yard sale. What would someone pay? Depressing that the couch you paid $2,000 for is likely worth $200 on your front lawn? Nobody says you have to sell it.
-For popular cars and trucks, look at what people are BIDDING on ebay. Not what sellers are asking but what is being bid in by prospective buyers towards the end of the auction. Your stuff is worth exactly what you can find someone to pay for it.
-Small businesses usually have two possible values: A higher value if the "goodwill" goes with it---that is, if you introduce the buyer of your pool business to your customers ("My cousin, Tony, from Staten Island is taking over the business because I'm moving to Tahiti---Tony was always better than me, you'll love him.") and a lower value if you are going to walk away and let your customers pools go green with algae. In a forced sale, you will walk away. Will there even be a business in a few days?
-Houses are worth what your neighbors sold for; stocks are worth what the market says they the moment you sell; your dog is worth $1. Sentimental value doesn't count because it is your sentiment---not the sentiment of the prospective buyer.

Of course, it doesn't really matter what you have. You can't take it with you. And, nobody really cares what you've got...except the courts, the spouse who is divorcing you, your creditors...and the people next door.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 04:59 PM
Posted by Administrator
At the moment your hands are ripped from your car's steering wheel from the impact of the '96 Jeep Cherokee smashing into the passenger side door, you will probably not be thinking:

-People who drive '96 Jeep Cherokees probably don't have very good insurance so I should have bought...

-Collision insurance so my insurance would pay for the cost of repairing/replacing my car...

-Some uninsured motorist insurance (UM) so that my insurance would (in effect) pretend that they were the bum that hit me and pay me some money as if he actually did have good insurance...

-And, I regret that I bought my PIP (the thing where your own car insurance company pays your medical bills without regard to whose fault the accident is) with a deductible (even though my insurance agent made extra commission by selling me PIP with a deductible...and I want my agent to make LOTS of money) because ...unless I take an ambulance to the hospital...I might find it hard to find a doctor to treat me (unless I pay cash or have health insurance) until the deductible is used up.

But, in the split second after the impact, you probably WILL be thinking...

-I regret that I was hit by a '96 Jeep Cherokee.... because, in spite of my injuries, my life and future monetary prospects would have been more hopeful if I'd gotten hit by a Bentley or a Ferrari or even a nice, new Porsche.

..and in Palm Beach County (unlike the rest of the world) we've got plenty of those. well of plenty of people who drive around with crappy insurance.

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Monday, January 9, 2012, 11:52 PM
Posted by Administrator
Clients complain that collection agents call and harass them. Their ex wife/husband calls and drives them crazy. "How can that be?", I ask, "Why would you speak to them?"

There seems to be a reluctance to hang up on rude people, a reluctance to not answer the phone when someone you have no interest in talking to calls. I don't know why. Politeness? Why be polite to someone who wants to annoy you? A cultural imperative to speak on the phone to whoever calls? I missed the day they taught us to do that.

And, why do I need to talk to lawyers who claim to know of their own personal knowledge that their clients version of what happened is 100% accurate whereas what my client is telling me is a bunch of total crap. Why do I need to talk to lawyers who want to argue that they are right. Why can't I just say "Goodbye" and hang up.

All phones have buttons that are intended to be used to cut off the connection. The red button on your cell phone. The white button in the cradle of a home phone that automatically shuts off the connection when you put the phone back in the cradle. I say...these disconnect buttons are there for a reason. Let's use them if we are on the phone with someone we aren't in the mood to deal with.

I undertand that there are people who believe we are obligated to talk to them on the phone whether or not we want to. That we are obligated to be pleasant and polite and accepting of what they say.

I say...speak on the phone with your friends...hang up on people you don't like (that's why the disconnect button is there). If someone you don't want to talk to calls, hang up..let them send you a letter. Then, throw the letter in the garbage.
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 08:38 PM
Posted by Administrator
If there is a judgment against you (not just a creditor threatening to sue or someone to whom you owe money), the judgment creditor (who has, I emphasize, already sued you and obtained a judgment) can get a Writ of Garnishment and seize your bank account, take your wages, or otherwise take money that you are owed. This is done behind your back. The judgment creditor doesn't have to tell you that they are going to take your bank account until they serve the Writ and the account is frozen. (If you knew beforehand, you'd take the money out...right?)

There are defenses to Garnishment....wages/head of household/$1,000 worth of car (if the Sheriff "executes" on your car...but you've got to assert the defenses. When you assert the defenses, a hearing gets scheduled. I went to a hearing on my client's "Claim Of Exemptions", this morning. I'd never been to a Claim of Exemptions hearing before.

Really, the creditor's lawyer was quite nice (uncommon among lawyers these days, myself included). Once my client testified that he provided more than 50% of his family's support...because he earned more than his wife; that most of the money in the seized account came from a recent bonus (which Florida law considers exempt wages); and that a lot of the money in the bank account came from his wife's paycheck...and there was no judgment against her....he conceded that the Writ of Garnishment should be dissolved (and the money in the account returned to my client).

Here is the lesson I took away: Like most of lawyering---hearings on Claims of Exemption in Garnishment cases---NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

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I AM Kymco People S250----2009 
Thursday, December 22, 2011, 10:27 AM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: The blog will interrupt it's explanation of how to save the US economy (below) for the following news flash:

This morning, the following email was recieved:

Steven Duhl, happy Thursday! I have seen your posting and decided to ask you something important. I am in a relationship and caught my partner cheating on me so I must get even! My cousin said cl (ed. note: Craig's List) would be the best place to find somebody who I can hook up with for one time only so thought what the heck. I would email someone I thought sounded gorgeous in the ad and came across yours! You seem real and enjoyable so would you be maybe interested in chatting online first to see if we're feeling each other? To prove to you that I am real, I uploaded all of my pix, cell #, and a special note for you under my private profile page. Can you text me today if you think I am hot? This way I can weed out bots and scammers as I'm tire of them! I bet you'll be pleased to see who I am! :)

The email was in response to a listing for sale in Craig's List of a 2009 Kymco motor scooter. The picture in the ad was a picture of the scooter. So, I guess "Geri Berryman" (no, NOT the the Geri Berryman you know) likes scooters...a LOT...and thought the scooter was named "Steven Duhl".

Editor's Note: As glib as the above entry is, there is a problem....the Craig's List ad doesn't mention Duhl's name. The ad does say the seller is at "iscootpalmbeach" and "Berryman" could have google that and made it to the iscootpalmbeach website. There is no mention of Duhl there, either. But, Berryman could have clicked on a link to this website or the blog...but are there any? Hmmm.
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LOOK, LET'S BE Steve Duhl 
Monday, December 19, 2011, 08:41 PM
Posted by Administrator
The immediate result of my announcement that I was going to suspend the blog has been a spike in hits. Well, two can play this game.

To sTop people from visiting the blog once and for all and to ensure that Chicago Radio host Steve Dahl will be the top google/yahoo/etc. result when people are looking for me, I hereby threaten the following:



Be there.........or don't.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 05:06 PM
Posted by Administrator
The blog will suspend operations as of December 14, 2011 as part of an experiment to determine how quickly Chicago radio host Steve Dahl will supplant me as the #1 result for people who
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Saturday, December 10, 2011, 12:06 PM
Posted by Administrator
I have seen some activity on foreclosures, thought that the mortgagee would finally push towards an end to the case----to throwing out my clients who had not paid a penny on their mortgage in a year-or two-or three----------only to find out that the mortgagee's motiviation was temporary. There was activity for a moment...then...nothing.

I did have some client's move out recently. Here is what happened.

They always wanted to move to be closer to the wife's work. They hadn't paid anything towards the mortgage in a long time. They filed bankruptcy and we thought that once the bankruptcy was over, the mortgagee (that's the bank or other entity that owns the mortgage) would move their foreclosure case forward. The bankruptcy stopped the case once it was filed---and the mortgagee never asked the bankruptcy court for permission to continue the case. Still, the bankruptcy was over---the "stay" on the foreclosure was lifted.


Then, they got an offer from the mortgagee to sell the house for far below what they had bought it for...maybe even for less than it was worth, now....and, in exchange for selling and moving out, the mortgaee would give them more than $10,000.

They got the money yesterday. I think they'd moved out a few months ago.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011, 02:42 PM
Posted by Administrator
When seeing bankruptcy clients, I always like to be the 2nd or 3rd lawyer they've seen. Everyone.....except for solid referrals....wants a second opinion and wants to compare price.
To get a second opinion or to compare price, you've got to see at least 2 lawyers.

When they see lawyer #1, they think "He seems nice. I'll go back to this guy unless lawyer #2 is a lot more money". But, when they are at the office of lawyer #2, they think "He is a nice guy. Why spend the time to go back to #1."

This is why I'd like to be #2. For things more complicated than litigation (lawsuits), it doesn't matter as much. For complicated things, clients will go back to #1 if he makes more sense than #2. For uncomplicated legal matters----and bankruptcy is a good example of that----all lawyers ought to be giving the same advice.

In my previous life of 30 years ago, when I sold Volkswagens, Frank Simone, the sales manager would say to me after I'd spent a lot of time with a car-buyer prospect: "You sold it but Queensboro is going to deliver it." Queensboro VW was the dealer down the road. Frank knew my prospect just needed to compare us with another dealer before they bought...from the other dealer.

Last Sunday, a local bicycle dealer stopped by at the other business, iScootPalmBeach, and we got to talking. One of his problems was that people would stop by his shop and ride a bike and like it. Then, they would shop the internet for a lower price and have the bike shipped to their door.

They'd bring the unassembled bike to the dealer's shop and he would charge them $75 to put it together. So, he sold it...the internet delivered it.....and then he got stuck making his almost-customer happy with his decision to buy unassembled on the internet. True, he did make $, he'll be out of business next year instead of next month.
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Sunday, December 4, 2011, 11:00 AM
Posted by Administrator
As the recession progressed and business slowed, business people and professionals I knew began to suggest that I join a networking group. The manager (now gone) of a bank I frequented wanted me to meet her at 6:00AM to have breakfast with her group. My insurance agent talked to me about his group (though, now that I think about it, there was no offer to join). The idea was this: there would be one lawyer (maybe more, if each had a different specialty), a chiropractor, a banker, a plumbing company owner, a dentist, etc.... The group would meet, more or less, once a week and trade busines ideas. And, anytime a group member had the opportunity, they would refer friends or acquaintances to other group memebers.

So, unless your group was the best of the best at everything, group members would refer to the lawyer or the dentist or whoever based not on qualifications or excellence but merely because they were members of their networking group. Since one hand washes the other, the referrer could expect to get referrals back to them in return.

My insurance agent recommended me to a chiropractor (hand pain...from years of grabbing onto vibrating bicycle handlebars and typing--like I'm doing now). The chiropractor ruled out carpal tunnel and, as he did, he gave me news and information about all of the Jewish lawyers he knew. Now, I am Jewish and I like other Jewish lawyers as much as the next guy but I thought it was kind of a strange topic for gossip. He was probably an okay chiropractor but, I began to think...shouldn't my insurance agent have reffered me to a great chiropractor and not just someone who was in his group and who made referrals to him.

A large part of the lawyer business, for me, is to refer people to lawyers whith a different area of expertise than my own. I know I claim to know everything---but, secretly, I know I don't. Since I am not a part of a networking group, I have no obligation to refer to anyone in particular. I try to base referrals on who I think is best and who will take the case. Hopefully after 30 years in town, I've got some idea, for most problems that I don't handle, of who the go-to lawyer is.

Not that there is anything wrong in referring to someone merely because you have a busines relationship (or a friendship) with long as you tell the person you are referring: "This man/woman isn't the best...but he/she's done me favors so that's why I'm sending you to them."

Except that nobody is going to tell you that.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 03:23 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am not the nicest guy in the word. Even my mother would agree with that. And, one of the things that quickly brings out my lack of niceness is being mis-quoted. I cannot do advanced math; solve crossword puzzles; explain gravity; define "simile" or "metaphor"..........but I do remember what I say. And, I don't much like it when someone----paying client or otherwise----misquotes me.

"You told me not to pay that bill." No, I didn't. I did tell you some things you shouldn't pay but if you think I told you not to pay THAT bill, you weren't listening. "You told me that you would pick me up at the Ft. Lauderdale airport if I bought your truck." No, what I said was that I WOULDN'T pick you up. ...I remember it well---you wanted me to drive 3 hours round trip and the word that came into my mind was "no". And, since the word "no" was in my mind, I said it: "NO".

When you find that you are being misquoted, you need to stop talking----hang up the phone, turn and walk away. At this point, several modern inventions can help you out:
-Send a letter.
-Send an email.
-or a FAX.
(Note: If you can't write or find it inconvenience, at least haul in a witness to listed to the remainder of the conversation and make notes about what was said.)
Keep a copy of what you send. That way, when you land up in court, you don't run the risk of being misquoted...and losing your case....

"He said he'd sell me the brown cow." Your response "Actually, I said I'd sell the black cow, then you misquoted me about the brown cow so I stopped talking to you to make sure you wouldn't misquote me, anymore. Then, I sent a letter reciting what our cow conversation actually's a copy of the letter. You didn't respond to my letter so I figured you accepted what actually had happened."

There is the whole idea that if someone sends you a letter reciting facts you believe to be untrue...and you don't respond and deny the facts...that the letter is admissible as evidence to show that you agreed to what was said. But, this is an uninteresting concept for another day.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011, 12:34 PM
Posted by Administrator
Being on the ground floor of a downtown building (the unimaginatively named FERNDIX building on the corner of Fern and S. Dixie), means that sometimes people just wander in. Yesterday, it was someone being evicted from their house and the day before it was two women (described above) from Channel 34. They were selling advertising.

When I was a young sprout...still with mostly all my hair, I worked for a lawyer in Gainesville named Mark Kaufman. Mark, I understand, was disbarred years later for carrying a gun (in some inappropriate way or in some inappropriate place...this is Florida: and merely carrying a gun is smiled upon by the Republican majority). When I knew him, he was a sole practitioner with a diamond ring on every finger. The rings, he explained, were from divorce clients who didn't have money (yes, there is an ethical rule about taking client's property in exchange for services...something about not doing it).

But, how Mark made his real money was injury work. It was the early 80's and the Florida Bar had just been forced by the courts to recognize that even lawyers had free speech rights and could not be banned from TV advertising. Gainesville had one local TV station (the rest of the stations were out of Jacksonville). So, he was able to get small-market advertising rates...from a TV station directed just at the local market he wanted.

In exercising his free speech rights, Mark produced a commercial which showed him, in a three piece suit, riding a child's tricycle downt he sidewalk and crashing into some people. Tacky? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. ...Also, he was the only local lawyer advertising on TV. In those days, "tacky" trumped TV advterising. Now, making money trumps tacky advertising.

I only worked for Mark long enough to learn things like:
-Every child whose imjuries include a facial laceration was planning on becoming a model.

-Okay, that was it.

Will I buy advertising from the two women? No, but I enjoy a good sales presentation. ..And, I'll compliment them when they're finished.

Editor's Note by Bob Smith: Duhl warns all salespeople up front that (because of his sales background) he is the world's worst prospect.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 12:02 AM
Posted by Administrator
Before I moved up here to Northern Wyoming and began spending my evenings gazing at the moon as it rose over the ridge that marked the Canadian border, I practiced law in Palm Beach County. I wasn't alone, of course, there were several hundred other lawyers.

One of the big injury firms now has a TV ad that tells us that there are enough lawyers in the State of Florida to fill a football stadium...maybe 88,000 lawyers...or, maybe I don't remember the exact number recited in the ad. I'm not sure. But I do know this:

1/2 of the more-or-less 88,000 lawyer work here in Palm Beach County and that presents a number of problems. Here they are:

1) There are so many lawyers that nobody really has a reputation, anymore. In my day, not everyone knew everyone but enough people knew you so that if you were a liar or a cheat, word got around and your word became dirt.

2) There are so many lawyers that the judges don't know who everyone is. Judges here are elected which makes them politicians which means that they have to memorize the name of every voter in the county...because people love to be known and will always vote or a judge who says...after a year of not seeing you "Hi Bob, how've you been?" Nowadays, judges aren't always sure they've even SEEN the lawyers appearing before them. And, if they don't recognize them, they're not going to trust them.

3) There are so many lawyers that...inevitably and not as a result of meanness or bad manners...there are an awful lot who don't know what they're doing. Here is a secret...don't tell anyone....YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE THAT BRIGHT TO BE A LAWYER. You may have to memorize a lot but you don't have to have much more intelligence that my grandson, Eli. And, Eli is 4.

The net result of all of this? Here it is:
a) Lawyers can lie and act like idiots becuase word that they are lying idiots won't get around. So, lawyers on the other side ...unable to rely on reputation... have to do extra work to guard against the opposing lawyers (possible? probable?)bad behavior.
b) Judges make new rules to guard against lawyer lying and lawyers not knowing what they are doing. For example, Child Support Guideliens Worksheets---supposedly to make sure everyone is paying the child support they should...instead of just asking the lawyer "Is child support according to the guidelines?" judges did back when lawyers could be trusted. Judges second-guessing agreements because lawyers don't know what they're doing. More forms, checklists, hearings, questions...all add up to bigger legal expenses. Want a divorce? You probably can't afford the legal fees....

On the other hand..more lawyers=more competition so you can probably find a cheap lawyers pretty easily.

But, is a cheap lawyer what you want?

All of this is the result of building more and more law schools over the past decade or two and filling them full of kids brought up on courtroom TV shows.

The solution is obvious: build more law schools and make everyone a lawyer. You won't have to hire'll be one.

Eli will be ready to begin law school in the fall.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011, 10:14 AM
Posted by Administrator
When I left this entry a few days ago, two family members had come to court, stood in line and faced an Assistant State Attorney....which is not the way it is supposed to be. It is sort of like a cop arrests you and you come to court and you have to answer to the cop...which would beg the question: Why do we pay judges $150K a year?

But, on the other hand, the cops arrest a whole bunch of people, these people were charged only with minor crimes and it sure it quicker just to let the prosecutor decide what to do. I called the chief judge.

Last time I was upset about how the judicial system here was of the judges had too many divorce cases...nobody called me back. This could be because I told the chief judge's assistant to tell him that if he didn't fix the problem, I would send my dog over to take a crap on his lawn (he is a distant---other side of the neighborhood---neighbor). The problem was somewhat-fixed and my dog was assigned to other (things). (Editor's note: Duhl does not use puns.)

This time, I got a call back and it is my firm belief that:
1) Defendants standing on the huge line in the hallway will be told that they are entitled to see the judge.
2) The prosecutor..who should be moved to the same floor-level spot as the Assistant Pubic Defenders...will at least be forced to put up a sign saying what she is.
3) The judge will probably stop by the courtroom to say "hello" and to announce that she is next door should anyone want to actually dispute the charges against them (the whole "Constitutional Rights" thing).

I don't suppose things will change much more than that. But, on the other hand, I may be the only one who cares.

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Friday, October 28, 2011, 10:09 AM
Posted by Administrator
Because people I know seem to have issues with their driver licenses, I have made two trips to the fabulous North County Courthouse (conveniently located across the street from the Palm Beach Mall---the #1 mall in the county) in the past few weeks. I didn't go as their lawyer (solve your own problems, I say---a little to easy for you to just have me do it) but merely to stand around and make sure their situations didn't go to crap. Things did not go as expected.

After standing in a long line in the hallway with a bailiff saying at frequent intervals "If you are not a defendant, you can't stand in the line, you have to go right now to the front of the courthouse." (Note: the bailiff is a very nice guy and I doubt it was his idea to kick the public out of a public courthouse), defendants gave a clerk their name and their file was pulled and sent into the "courtroom". I have put "courtroom" in quotes because courtrooms should have things like...well..a judge. But, this one didn't.

In front of the courtroom where the judge (or the Traffic Magistrate on traffic ticket days) would sit was a woman dressed in a brownish suit. The first time I was there, a handwritten sign in front of her identified her as an Assistant State Attorney. The second time, even the handwritten sign was gone. There was no doubt in my mind (or my friends' minds) that the entire audience of defendants (and the room was packed) waiting for their case to be called believed this woman to be the judge.

Finally, each defendant's case was called and they stood in line in front of the person-they-believed-to-be-the-judge seemed to me...the-person-they-believed-to-be-the-judge decided their fate.

To be continued.............
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The Blog Is Acting Up..........and other Steve Duhl 
Monday, October 24, 2011, 12:32 PM
Posted by Administrator
The Blog is acting up. I have been having trouble editing previous entries and had to delete one because I couldn't get in to finish it. So, I am going to discuss several things in this entry in anticipation of the Blog blowing up and becoming inoperable: (I am now making my second attempt to edit this entry..the first attempt didn't work.)

1) At a meeting I was dragged to for something called more or less INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AMBASSARORS, I saw a sales technique I had never seen before: The host---on stage at the PB State College Theatre---showed a short movie designed to excite the kids in the audience into cajoling their parents to send them on a $6,000 or $7,000 two week trip to Australia so that they could live on a ranch (called a "station", there) and dance with the wallabees. At the end of the movie, the host walked in from stage right the movie...and, so, the audience was guilted into clapping at the movie and, soon, everyone was the movie.

I have been convinced for a long time that smiling is not only a reflection of happiness but that a forced smile (though it can't and doesn't employ all of the muscles of a real smile) can make the person forcing a smile happier. I know from experience that getting someone with their arms folded across their chest to open up (by handing them a pen, for instance), makes them more receptive (arms crossed is body language for shutting out what someone is telling you).

I am now convinced that not only is clapping an indicator of approval but that coercing someone to clap will make them more approving. I clap because I like it.......I like it because I clap.

2) Scammer update....... I complained to my Craig's list
scammer that I hadn't received my bogus money order (for the Ford F-150, the scammer claims to want to buy...for what I am asking, sight unseen). The scammer responded (by email):

"The check has been sent and it will be delivered to your address on Tuesday from now according to the courier, but to my greatest surprise the check issued out including the total money my client is owing instead of the actual coost of my purchase from you which is more than your amount for the item which is to be paid as i instructed him to do. This is a terrible mistake and i was just informed this so please once the check is delivered please take it to your Bank and have it deposit. You will then deduct the cost of my purchase plus an extra $50 to offset the cost of your run around expenses. The rest of the fund should be sent to my shipper via western union the same day you do receive the payment so that my mover can make the trip over for the pick at once. the money is to be splinted before on different name for you and my shipper which is now coming in whole to you. I will need your immediate response via email asuring me that i can trust you to handle this with care and have the remaining fund returned appropriately. I am hearing impaired and i will hope that your intentions remans noble throughout the duration of this transaction."

(Grammatical mistakes and spelling errors above are those of the scammer. Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes otherwise in the Blog are mine.)

Please be intentions are noble.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011, 11:28 AM
Posted by Administrator
So, the person you are negotiating with just wants MORE. They have no limit. They will never be satisfied. Whatever you sense...will just cause them to demand MORE. Whether this is because some people are never satisfied; because they have smelled your weakness and willingness to give more; or because they don't know what it is they want..........I just don't know. Still, there is only one possible negotiating strategy:

Offer less.

That's right...drop your offer. If you were offering $100,000 to settle the case, drop your offer to $90,000. $10,000 offer to buy the car...drop it to $9,000. Here is why:

1) By dropping your offer, you show strength and this strength might overcome the weakness the other side smelled.
2) By dropping your offer, you have rejected their escalating demands.
3) Because there is nothing else you can do. If you are trying to settle/buy/resolve an issue and you walk away you have failed. You've got to respond with, drop your offer and and dropping it until the other side responds reasonably and give the impression that they have stopped just asking for MORE. Then, let them work you back up to where you were to begin with.

This idea works. It has worked for me.

But, not all the time.
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Monday, October 17, 2011, 04:55 PM
Posted by Administrator
Having spent the afternoon at an unsuccessful mediation, I thought it would be a good time to review two (2) situations frequently encountered during the course of negotiations:
I) The dumb-ass offer.
b) The character played by Edward G. Robinson in the Movie KEY LARGO, starring Humphrey Bogart (and Katherine Hepburn?).

But, since I have recently discussed the issue of the dumb ass offer to exhaustion, I will limit myself to the issues raised in the movie, KEY LARGO. I do not remember if I have ever seen KEY LARGO. I think Katherine Hepburn was in it but I'm not sure. Based on the portions of the movie, I do remember seeing, here is the plot:

Edward G. Robinson, a short, bug-eyed, 1940-50's character actor played a prohibition era bootlegger. Robinson's character used boats to smuggle booze from Cuba to South Florida. For some reason, he landed up at a hotel owned by Katherine Hepburn's(?) father on Key Largo. Bogart's character, a recently discharged American serviceman, was staying at the hotel---something to do with his being friends with Hepburn's now-dead-boyfriend??? Who knows. Anyway, Robinson's character takes over the hotel and holds the guests hostage. I do not know why he did this. Surrounded by police?

The scene in question takes place in an upstairs room in the hotel. Bogart, in front of Hepburn(?) and other guests, asks Robinson what he wants (from taking over the hotel). Robinson answers "I don't know what I want." Okay, the point of this entry is coming right now...

Bogart then says "I know what you want, Rocco, you want more." It is important to note that Robinsons' character in the movie is named "Rocco". Rocco then goes into a bug-eyetrance and says "Yeah, more. That's what I want: more."

So, there you are trying to settle a lawsuit, trying to buy off the woman whose car your son just hit with your truck so that she doesn't report it to insurance trying to get your soon-to-be-ex-wife to agree to what furniture she is going to take from the hosue.....and you realize...the person I am negotiating with doesn't really know what he/she wants....they just want MORE. What do you do?

To be continued...
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MY Jesus Rabinowitz 
Thursday, October 13, 2011, 10:56 AM
Posted by Administrator
A long time ago, on a road 40 miles West of here, on the other side of a small green bridge spanning the C40 canal, I ran into the rear of a Volkswagen microbus that had stopped for no reason in the middle of the road. First we were driving along....the VW in front and me behind in my car. Then, the VW stopped. There were no turns-offs, no intersections, no turtles in the road. The VW driver just decided that he didn't like where his VW was headed and so...he stopped.

...and I rear ended him.

He was from out-of-state and he called me a few days later and told me the damages were $1,000. I told him "I'm not paying you, you stopped for no reason, call my insurance company." He did. And, as a result of his call, my rates went up. I have been kicking myself ever since for not sending him the grand.

One day...long ago...I woke up and walked outside to my car and saw that my windshield was broken. I called my insurance agent and asked whether I should make a claim or fix it myself. He said "Windshields don't count as claims."

Years later, I had a small accident and my insurance rates skyrocketed. I called the company and asked why. The accident claim wasn't much of anything. The company said "You had a previous claim for a windshield." I have been kicking myself ever since for not getting the windshield fixed on my dime.

A few days ago, I got a call from a friend of mine. His 17 year old daughter had been in a small accident....drove too close to the side of the street and scraped someone's parked car. "Pay the other guy the money.", I told him.

My friend called two days later to complain that the owner of the other car wanted $450.00 and that it didn't look to him to be $450 damage. ...but that the car's owner had said "If you don't pay, I'll report it to your insurance company." "Pay the money", I told him.

Don't negotiate. Don't threaten to call his insurance company to try to blamethe accident on him. Just pay the money. If insurance gets involved everyone's rates go up.

Some things have to be on your own dime.
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Thursday, October 6, 2011, 10:36 AM
Posted by Administrator
There are four things that a second mortgagee (the company/bank/person/trust) that owns a second mortgage on someone's house can do if they are not paid.

1) Wipe it out. Send the borrower (mortgagor/homeowner) a letter that says, more or less: "You don't owe us anything. We're filing a Satisfaction Of Mortgage, so you can even sell your house without paying us a penny."

2) Foreclose. If the first mortgage consumes all of the equity in a house, it isn't a real good economic decision for the second to foreclose. They will be selling a house with a first mortgage that needs to be paid. The only sure winner will be the lawyer who files the case.

3) Try to collect/sue on the Promissory Note and ignore the mortgage; send it to a collections company; sell the debt (like most unsecured bad debt---credit card debt/personal loans--- is eventually sold) for pennies on the dollar to a lawyer or collection company.

4) Wait.

I have now seen second mortgagees do each of the above. There is no sense out there. Some will lose their homes over nothing. Some will have their debt forgiven.
add comment ( 14 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3.1 / 1197 ) Steve Duhl 
Sunday, September 25, 2011, 01:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
When negotiating the settlement of a case or the purchase or sale of whatever it is you have to sell or want to buy, it is important to understand the concept of the lowball. The idea behind the lowball is that you really don't know what (for example) the other lawyer is willing to take to settle the case. You don't know how much the guy selling the Snapper lawn tractor is willing to sell it for. But, on the other hand, you don't want to insult them.

Offering $50 for a $1,000 lawn tractor might get you thrown off the seller's property at the business end of a shotgun. Offering $1,000 to settle an injury case might result in the lawyer you are making the offer to refusing to speak to you ever again about settlement because you are obviously an idiot. On the other hand, maybe the other side just doesn't know what they have is worth and/or really needs some cash...right now. Failing to lowball could be an opportunity lost.

My belief is that if someone makes you a stupid offer, you should ignore it. If you tell them the offer is stupid, they will probably feel obliged to stick with it and defend it. If you ignore it, the stupid offer never has to be mentioned again. (Buyer: "I'll give you $50." Seller: "Looks like it'll be a nice day, today.")

Two days ago, I received an email from Craigslist ....where my 2001 F150 is sometimes listed for sale. The email said just this: "3500". That was a lot less than I am asking for the truck. I responded to the lowballer by asking: "Does emailing a seller a lowball offer really work? Doesn't it happen that you end up making a trip to see what's for sale only to find out that the seller never was going to take your offer?" I was just looking for advice on successful lowballing.

I never got a response.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 09:43 AM
Posted by Administrator
It is fantastic that some car manufacturers offer a "100,000 Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty". It would be even better, though, if they didn't limit their warranty at all.

The "Limited Warranty" on that TV you are about to buy LIMITS the warranty that the law says you've otherwise got: that the product will work....forever...and that if it breaks, the manufacturer has to fix it and pay for all of your incidental losses. The manufacturer takes the expansiveness of that away and says that you are limited to ...for example... one year parts and labor and no consequential damages (Your warehouse didn't really need that forklift to be working EVERY day, did it? You are okay with shutting down for a month while parts come in from China. Right?)

What is your remedy when that $1,000 electric bicycle you just bought breaks while under the one year warranty? If the company is still in probably will get it fixed...somewhere.
If the company has gone bust (bankrupt) or just doesn't care about your problem, you will have a $1,000 metal sculpture that resembles an electric bicycle.

When General Motors went bankrupt, it could have walked away from its (limited) warranty obligations. But, if it did, the brand would have died. Besdies, the government was paying.

When it comes to warranties, the only thing better than a Limited Warranty is when the warranty isn't limited. If the seller doesn't limit the writing...then you've got an unlimited warranty. Of course, seller's aren't stupid enough to give you one of those.

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MY TRIP TO Jesus Rabinowitz 
Saturday, August 27, 2011, 11:30 AM
Posted by Administrator
Yesterday, I went to the local CarMax to see if they wanted to buy my black 2007 four door. I thought it was worth $11,700. They offered $10,000. So, I didn't sell. I was hopeful...before we got started... because they bought my mother's Mazda for $10,000 about a year ago even though there was a FOR SALE sign under the passenger seat saying we only wanted $9,500. Also, CarMax has a reputation for paying too much for the used cars they buy. Anyway, this entry isn't about my trying to sell the car. What this entry is about is the conversation I had with the salesman while the car was being appraised.

"We don't negotiate.", he told me about CarMax. "Everyone pays the same price."

There are benefits to not negotiating:
-There is no pressure to negotiate.
......okay, I can only think of ONE benefit.

I told the salesman that I didn't mind negotiating. This is what he said "But, since we don't allow negotiating, everyone pays the same price. You don't have to worry that someone else got a better deal than the deal you got."

And, I thought to myself "But, that is an insane rationale." The idea...and this was no doubt taught to the salesman in CarMax Sales that I should
*care more about nobody getting a better deal then I got than I care
* about CarMax making more profit on its cars than it ought to make.

The way they would have me think about it is, I guess, CARMAX is my friend AND I SHOULD BE HAPPY THEY HAVE A BIG MARKUP ON THIER CARS...other customers are my COMPETITIORS and it should upset me if one of them is able (by better negotiations skills) to save $100 that I wasn't able to save.

On my way out...and after they'd offered me $10,000 for my European car, I saw that they had a tiny blue Kia with 49,000 miles on it on sale for $12,900... negotiating.
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1, Steve Duhl 
Friday, August 26, 2011, 03:07 PM
Posted by Administrator
According to the internet-accessible records maintained online by the Clerk of the Fifteenth Judicial and for Palm Beach County, Florida, I have been associated with 1,360 cases. I know this because I just looked---it's Friday afternoon and I didn't much feel like doing real work.

Felonies, misdemeanors, a guardianship or two, a passel of injury cases, some foreclosures, a bunch of real estate litigation, a probate litigation or two. (My juvenile cases probably weren't conted because they are confidential---adoptions probably not either---Baker Act, Myers Act-I have no idea). I was thinking about this earlier today after the day's first phone call.

The call was an adjuster from an insurance company (not the company that you can afford, though you don't think you can; or the company with the brunette wearing dark red lipstick; or the company that claims to be a good neighbor....but that always seems to demand higher rates than your actual neighbor---if he or she were in the insurance business---would demand). I answered and said "Hi, how are you doing?"

My voice mail message to the adjuster, yesterday, was "This is my fourth phone call. If you don't get back to me by Monday, I will figure I've reached a dead end." But, that was yesterday.

The adjuster said "What is your tax ID?" Which told me the company was going to pay my client her (minimal)Uninsured Motorist limits-------she had injured her shoulder pretty badly in a car wreck...the at-fault driver had no liability insurance (welcome to Florida). My "dead end" message, yesterday, was meant to say---in a sort-of friendly, non-threatening way---"We are going to file a lawsuit next week".

The adjuster's job was, in a way, to decide whether I would file a lawsuit if her company didn't' pay or whether I would just walk away from the claim. If the adjuster had looked at the Clerk's webiste, my 1360 previous cases on file with the Clerk's office would have hinted at the answer.

Really, the adjuster probably just reviewed the file, decided the claim needed to be paid and gave me a phone call. Still, it's nice to know the 1,360 cases are there for the nexst adjuster to look at.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011, 10:46 AM
Posted by Administrator
The biggest decision we make on a regular basis is what car to buy/how much to spend. We buy from salespeople schooled in getting us to part with our money in a moment of temporary insanity. We buy flash and speed that we don't need. It is a monumental interplay of the American Dream & keeping up with the people next door & freedom & high class & sexiness ........along with high payments for all of this spread out over the next 4 or 5 or even 6 years. For all the psychology and law involved, buying a car is more like the Casey Anthony trial than it is like paying a buck for a candy bar.

So, since we already know at the blog... we write about car sales too much, we feel obligated to update and conclude the entry of a few days ago which involved, among other things, Bruce and the VW that broke down 39 miles after he took delivery. You may recall that Bruce told the dealer they had to give him a new car. And, that for some reason, they agreed to do it.

Yesterday, Bruce took delivery of a 2012...the broken down VW was a 2011. He asked me whether I thought it was a conspiracy against all that is right in the world that the dealer insisted he pay another $600. I said "The car is a year newer, it is worth more than $600 more, pay the money." He already had (though, being a New Yorker, he felt obliged to bully the dealer into giving him floor mats).

"I got into the car", Bruce said "and I turned on the ignition and this yellow light was glowing. So, I looked at the owner's manual and it said the yellow light was to tell me the license plate light wasn't working. When I got out of the car, I saw that not only weren't there any bulbs to the license plate...the entire wiring harness was missing."

I told Brce that I still didn't think it was a conspiracy against him. When Bruce's wife frst asked me whether she should buy a VW (I sold them in the 70's), I texted her "You will get to know the dealer." I am figuring that the breakdown after 39 miles, the new car and the $600, and the missing wiring harness all happened just to prove me right.

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......BEFORE YOU WALK OUT THE DOOR....continued... 
Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 01:51 PM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: This is a continuance of the NEXT entry (which was previous in time to this entry and which is on the next page).
If this entry makes sense without reading the next entry first then it must be because...things on the blog make a WHOLE LOT of sense.

The movie WEDDING CRASHERS began with a couple in divorce mediation. The short blonde guy what's-his-name and Jennifer Aniston's former boyfriend (the big know who I mean) played joint-mediators. The divorcing couple sat around a table with their lawyers and yelled at each other until the wife opened a pill bottle and took out an anti-anxiety pill, the husband demanded water for her, and the case settled.

I am able to use the WEDDING CRASHERS mediation scenes to help clients understand mediation. "It isn't like they showed it on WEDDING CRASHERS", I tell them. Everyone doesn't sit around a table yelling at each other. Really, the mediator sends the parties to separate rooms and then he/she shuttles back and forth between them...bringing offers and counter-offers until (maybe) the case settles.

CHANGEUP/CHANGED UP/WHATEVER nears the end with a mediation scene. It isn't a realistic mediation scene but, still, the idea is there: a bunch of gray suited lawyers and blue suited businessmen are trying to settle something.....a corporate merger, maybe.

Here is what happens (reading this will NOT ruin the movie for was a great poop jokes, public urination, violence by children...everything you need for comedy fun):
a) The parties are in separate rooms.
b) The mediator brings in the other sides offer..."$5 Million", she says "and that they say it is their final offer...take it or leave it."
c) The lawyer-hero of the story says to his cohorts, more or less "The other side is still here. If it was really their final offer, they would have left."
d) The lawyer-hero says to the mediator "Tell them $6 Million". (Note. I have made up the numbers.)
e) The other lawyers and businessmen on his side say that the $6 Million offer will be rejected.
e) The lawyer-hero makes everyone on his side get up and walk out of mediation, and, as the assembled suits reach the office building door, the mediator comes running up and says:


I did not stay for the credits. I assume Neil Murphy's name was there.
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Monday, August 15, 2011, 10:44 AM
Posted by Administrator
50 years ago, a man named Neil Murphy sold cars for Braman. I saw him about 8 months ago for the first time in a dozen years and he looked, like always, as if he was 32. He was sitting at a table in a Greek restaurant with a woman who ...really was... around 29.

Once, I wanted to buy a car from Braman and I asked Neil how to do it. This is what he said:

"Make a lowball offer. The salesman will go to get the sales manager. When the salesmanager comes, shake his hand tell him it's nice to meet him. The salesmanager will sit down with you, and, after a few minutes, he'll reject your offer. When he rejects the offer, shake his hand, thank him for his time and tell him you were glad to meet him. Then, head for the door."
Neil said the sales manager would stop me just as I opened the door to walk out.

I did what he said. It worked.

I was reminded of this last night while watching movie #2 at the local Muvico. Movie #1 was THE HELP...a fairly good re-write of history that spoke poorly of upper middle class white people in 1960's Mississippi. Movie #2 was CHANGEUP or CHANGED UP...or something like that...starring the male lead from DEFINITELY MAYBE and the female lead from some movie that starred Chandler Bing from FRIENDS.

....continued above....

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16,736; 16,737;16,738; 5 
Friday, August 12, 2011, 09:08 AM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note The blog's hit counter has reset...again. The actual number of hits is, I believe somewhere around 10 billion.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011, 08:10 PM
Posted by Administrator
I have found that I often forget things that are important to remember...just when I need these things the most. So, I have decided to make a list:

1) Whoever talks first loses. Silence makes people feel uncomfortable. If you can just shut up and wait until the other side gets uncomfortable enough to feel like they have to say something....they might just say they'll give you what you want.
2) If you've got no cards to play...your only choices are to fold or to bluff. Two days ago, there was no reason I could think of WHY my friend Bruce's VW dealer should give him a new car. His broke down the day he bought it with only 39 miles on it but, still, a NEW car? In spite of not having a leg to stand on, Bruce demanded a new car. The dealer is now looking for one.
3) Sometimes, all of your three choices are bad choices. And, all you can do is pick the least bad choice. You can't choose the good choice because there IS NO good choice. When I had skin cancer on my nose, the plastic surgeon said I could have skin graft or they could fold down a flap of skin from above the hole they cut out and try to keep the blood supply intact or they could just leave it--it would heal up but it would look ugly. I took the flap. It went necrotic..the skin died and turned black... picking what seems to be the least bad choice doesn't make it a good choice.
4) Is a flower in the desert beautiful if nobody sees it? No. And, also, you shouldn't respond to people saying stupid things. Just ignore them. If nobody pays attention to stupidity does that mean it isn't stupid? I don't know....but, give it a try.
5) If you don't win arguments, don't argue. Ignore the argument and walk away. Lawyers argue because that is their job and judge's are there to decide who is right. Why do other people argue? Who decides which of them is right?
6) Without a judge, there is a way to decide who won an argument. Here it is: If their blood pressure went up and your's didn't---you win. If your blood pressure went up and their didn't---they win. If everyone's blood pressure goes up---everybody loses.
7) The expression "Don't hit below the belt." really means "Only hit below the belt if you have to." I'm not talkng about punching someone in the nuts. Here is what I'm talking about:
Your soon-to-be-ex calls you on the phone just to get you upset. You say: "Are you still having that same problem with your girlfriend that you had with me?" See #6, above, for further explanation.

Editor's Note: Mr. Rabinowitz is a former South Florida lawyer who sometimes writes for the blog when he isn't working on his still-unpublished 2nd book THE DAY BEGAN QUITE WELL.
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Sunday, August 7, 2011, 05:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am having trouble getting it out of my head that ...except for Paris.... there didn't seem to be a whole lot of policemen or police cars in any of the european countries we visited. They weren't on the highway and they weren't in town. (And, when you did see them, they weren't driving huge V8 powered Fords or Chryslers. They were driving small 4 door hatchbacks...30MPG and still room for two criminals in back.)

In Paris, there were cops. They traveled four to a car or stood around in groups next to foreign embassies. There were some at the Eifel tower but not at the Louve or Notre Dame Cathedral. Traveling in packs like they were, I imagined that if anyone did anything, the reaction would be for the four cops in the car to jump out and beat the perp to a bloody pulp before hauling him in.

In about 1,500 kilometers of driving, I did see a few people pulled over: by a motorcycle cop outside of Geneva; a car about to enter the A8 highway in Cannes; a black 5 series BMW in Antibes (waived over by "police assistants" who, I believe were looking for a black four door sedan...a black Peugeot also got waved over)....but in the U.S., in that amount of driving, I would have seen 50 or 100 cars sitting on the side of the road in front of flashing blue lights. Better drivers in Europe? No. High speed limits? Not on surface streets...highways are in the 75-85 range. Less money to pay cops? That's part of my theory.

About 3/4 of the way into our trip, as we left a small town about halfway between Grenoble and the Mediterranean coast, there was a flashing sign over the two lane road. More or less, it said (in French...which I do not speak): "THINK SAFETY WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER".

For the next three hours, the road ran by a fast moving river then headed up switchbacks until it was above the treeline with a 1000 drop to a rocky ravine and only an occaisional guardrail before it plunged back down in another servies of hairpin switchbacks. Up thousands of feet and then down, every kilometer of road needed a hundred shifts of Hertz's Peugeot's 5 speed transmission.

For the entirety of this part of the drive, while I was stuck behind a slow moving livestock truck full of sheep; as I was passed by speeding motorcyclists and drivers who were much more comfortable with mountain driving than I was; after I squeezed by a bus in the middle of a blind curve... I thought to myself "THINK SAFETY WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER".

The other part of my why-less-cops theory? The Europeans ...most of them... have all been hanging around their continent, together (except for a world war or two), for thousands of years and, maybe, more than us, they realize that they ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER.

We Americans, maybe, rely too much on the cops.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011, 04:23 PM
Posted by Administrator
We are back in town and will open tomorrow, Monday, at 9:00AM....okay, really I am on French/Swiss/German time and it'll probably be more lake 10:00.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011, 06:11 PM
Posted by Administrator
We were trying to decide whether the best way to get to the Mediterranean Coast of France from Nyon, Switzerland, a town on Lake Geneva. I asked the hotel front desk person, a young woman from Italy, whether she recommended that we drive East-to-Italy and then South to the coast or South to Grenoble, France and then on windy, mountain roads. The Italian route, on the map looked flat and fast. She said "I've made the trip only on the train." The concept of driving that far seemed foreign to her.

Our friends (along with Aryanna, our daughter) made the trip from Paris to Cannes on a 200MPH train. They report is was a wonderful trip...wide seats, lots of room, French passengers who resented them for being loud Americans. We made our way South through the mountains.

I found it interesting that we saw virtually no police cars on the road from Paris to SouthWest Germany to Switzerland to Southern France. A motorcycle policeman had stopped a car outside of Geneva. A French police car passed us on the highway. Once we left Paris, that was it.

In the U.S., police are police school... to make traffic stops with the intention of finding bigger crimes and criminals riding in the car. A speeding stop turns into a search for drugs...a check of driver and passenger for outstanding opportunity to arrest someone and send them to prison. Young kids with old cars are good targets...maybe the driver doesn't have a driver license...maybe someone is smoking marijuana.

And so, I began to think, if we spent $10Trillion dollars, more or less, on a high speed rail wouldn't just create construction jobs and save gasoline and save money on building new roads and road would have at least two other benefits:
1) (Which has nothing to do with the subject of this entry): More people would travel and spend money on being tourists and that would be good for the economy, and,
2) (Actually related to this entry): We'd have fewer traffic stops and fewer people getting arrested and going to prison and we'd need fewer police. For instance, kids would take the train and not drive around smoking marijuana.

...and, while I support the police and all that they would be nice to be able to drive to Boca without passing 5 Deputies, 3 FHP troopers and a cop who lives in Loxahatchee driving to work in his Aventura Police Department police car. (It would be nicer not to have to DRIVE there. ...okay, it would be nicest not to have to go to Boca at all.)

....and my friends who are policemen are about to retire, anyway.

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Monday, August 1, 2011, 04:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
When we were in Paris, five years ago, a young Frenchman tried to pick up my wife a few dozen yards from the entrance to the Louve. A few days ago, the obverse of the same situation occurred in virtually the same place. Here is what happened: after we spent a few hours looking at gigantic wall-to-ceiling paintings and re-visiting the bust of two angelic boys with whom I had taken a picture in our previous visit (I had aged...they, being made of marble, had not) and visiting the reconstruction of Napoleon's apartment, we exited through the triangular glass dome.

Within a few feet of our exiting and within a few yards of the spot that Frenchman put the moves on her, my wife was stung by a bee in the left arm. Within an hour, the arm was beginning to swell.

By the next day, as we neared Verdun on our way to Strasbourg and the German border, her arm was hot near the site of the sting. We thought infection. We got off the highway and began to look for a pharmacy? a doctor? Finally, we followed the signs to a hospital.

The hospital was old and needed paint. The receptionist sent us around the side to the Urgency entrance. The next receptionist spoke her best English (okay, not great, but much better than my French); looked at my Wife's passport; looked at a list of nationalities; did not find "American" or "USA" and had us take a seat.

A few minutes later, a nurse brought my Wife to the back. Half hour later, she came for me.

They gave her four steroid pills (it was inflammation, not infection) and an anti-itch pill and a prescription for more (after an hour of observation, the arm was still inflamed). I asked if we were free to go. "Yes", the nurse said. I asked where we should pay.
The nurse seemed confused. It became clear that we didn't have to pay. This was France. Health care was free...or paid for by their taxes...and they had no people at the hospital whose job it was to take money...or credit cards.

Maybe we'll get a bill in the mail.

I doubt it.

Note: We tried to find a pharmacy to get the prescription filled. It was Saturday. Supposedly, every pharmacy had a sign out front that directed people to the ONE that was actually open. No luck Sunday, either. Monday? We were in Switzerland and it was a national, nothing was open there.

2nd Note: After the bee incident but before the hospital in Verdun, my wife was chased down and kissed on the cheek by a souvenier dealer with a shop in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. According to my wife, he said that he loved her as soon as she walked into the store. Then, he gave her free key chains. Then, more free key chains. "Are you sure you are leaving," he said "because I love you." My wife says:
"Paris IS where you go to find love."
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SUMMER VACATION............................ 
Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 09:13 AM
Posted by Administrator
We will be open for limited hours until Monday, August 8th at which time we will resume our normal, sporadic hours. If you need to contact me, email is great! or

Our phones will continue to be answered. We will be making appointments. We will be accepting payments. ....just call first (624-6306) to make sure we'll be here when you are coming.

NOTE: Our new location, 325 S. Dixie Hwy. is:
-Two blocks East of Flagler Dr. and the Intracoastal.
-Two blocks West of the CityPlace Publix and Cheeburger! Cheeburger!
-Three blocks South of Clematis St.
-Four blocks South of the Courthouse (though, when it is a sauna outside, it seems further). the corner of S. Dixie and Fern St. in beautiful DOWNTOWN West Palm Beach.

Pay the meter $.25 for 15 minutes, park at a City lot or garage (there is one about 50 yards) for 2 hours for a buck, or stop in and see if parking behind the building is ok (we have a policy of not impeding Nick, the landlord, from backing out his BMW when he is done landlording for the day).

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Part III---As I stood there in front of the Clerk at the Tax Steve Duhl 
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 04:21 PM
Posted by Administrator I stood there in front of the Clerk at the Tax Collector, I realized that I had a problem. She said "The only way you are going to be able to register this is if the original buyer registers it in Pennsylvania and then transfers it to you." I didn't even know the seller...I had only met "his brother". I was not optimistic.

I called the brother. He called his brother. His brother texted me the name and address of the original Pennsylvania owner and, amazingly, that guy went to Pennsylvania's motor vehicle people, paid sales tax on a trailer he didn't own, paid for the registration and title for the trailer, signed it and FEDEX's it back to me.

Still, and in spite of my previous good experience... when I saw the Taiwansese scooter-seller only had an Appication For Title, I said "I'll come back on Tusday and we'll go up to the tax office together and fix this." He didn't understand what the problem was and I couldn't explain it: my Mandarin still was not so good.

On Tuesday, at the dorms outside of the St. Lucie International Airport I found out that the seller was leaving for Taiwan the next day (fly to Atlanta then 23 hours to Narita/Tokyo Airport then 1 hour to some town on the South Coast of Taiwan). Had I not dragged him down to the tag office, I would be trying to recreate the solution to the Pennsylvania-trailer problem.......but, this time, 3/4 of the way around the world.

So, I have learned: do your motor vehicle/scooter/boat/trailer transactions right there at the Tax Collector's Office. In fact, hand over the money at the Clerk's window and only once you are sure title is good. Should you run a check to make sure there are no Execution liens? Yeah, you should---especially with a big money item.

Is there any way to guaranty you are getting what you pay for? Probably not. Sellers of used items try to sell "as is" and that means that what you are buying doesn't have to run or work or not fall apart...unless the seller knew something about it that you couldn't have discovered and lied about it. On the other hand, sellers do warrant that they own what they are selling. So, if they can't get you good title, you can sue.

But, if what you are buying is worth enough to make it worthwhile to sue then it was worth enough to spend some time and effort to make sure the seller was able to pass good title.
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Monday, July 25, 2011, 02:48 PM
Posted by Administrator
So, as I stood on the dormitory porch outside the gates of the St. Lucie International Airport, I met the several 17 year old Irish flight school students who shared the dorm room with the Taiwanese guy. This was the Irish kids' summer vacation. I asked one of them what his parents did for a living. "They own a pub.", he said.

When I came to pick up the scooter two days later, I found out that the Irish kids had passed their check flight and would now each get a Private Pilots License. The Taiwaneses guy had failed. He had passed the written but the check flight did him in. He would have to return, he said, to the US to try again. "There are no flight schools in Taiwan.", he said. Also, he told me, there were no airplanes for rent....well, maybe a few ultralights.

But, I digress from the scooter-buying story. I will get back on track........ A few months ago, I bought a motorcycle trailer that was sitting in the parking lot outside of a flooring distributor. When I paid and picked it up, the owner's brother handed me a piece of paper that had the fancy paper look of a Motor Vehicle Title. It wasn't.

The piece of paper was a Certificate Of Origin, which was produced by the manufacture and should have gone to the Motor Vehicle Dept. of whatever state the trailer was sold in---to the first purchaser. It didn't. Worse than that, the trailer dealer had endorsed it to the brother's friend....who lived in Pennsylvania.

When I walked into the Tax Collector's Office in downtown WPB to register the trailer, the clerk took the Certificate Of Origin with her when she went back to talk to management. After 20 or 30 minutes, she returned to her window carrying a thick book containing all of the vehicle registration laws for all of the states.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 10:11 PM
Posted by Administrator
My experience with my halfhearted attempts to sell my 20' SeaCraft....has been middle aged men looking at things for sale the way women window shop at malls. Still, when I saw a used Kymco Agility 50 (the same scooter that iScootPalmBeach maintains in its vast fleet) for sale at the "St. Lucie County Airport", I had to go.

The St. Lucie County Airport is not 1/2 hour West of here (like Port St. Lucie is). It is far towards the Northern border of St. Lucie County down from a sign that says "Vero Beach 11 Miles". The airport is on a County Road a mile or two from the downtrodden outskirts of Ft. Pierce...which is downtrodden in every direction.

But, the airport is huge. There is a Customs office...which makes it an International Airpot: it is a port of entry for private pilots coming in from the Bahamas. And, there is a flight school with, at least, a dozen red/white/blue painted high wing Cessnas and low wing, single engine Pipers. The scooter-seller was a student at the school...from Taiwan. His English was much, much, much better...........than my Mandarin.

I looked at the Scooter and drove it and then asked whether the seller had the title. He said he did but, when he came back from his dorm room, all he had was a Florida "Application For Title". I tried to explain the problem to him. Aryanna (my daughter) read me the VIN # from teh "Appliation" and I checks it against the VIN on the frame rail...behind a pull-out plastic plug.

I was vigilant about the whole title issue because, a few months ago, I bought a double axle, enclosed cycle trailer and that purchase almost did not go so well. At the time that purchase almost did not go so well, I had been in the legal business for almost 30 years, the car business before that, and had just completed the Florida Automobile Dealer Applicant's Training Court. And, as I have written before, I passed the test at the end of the wrong. So, you would have thought that I would KNOW.


Don't Miss It!
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UNUSUAL JEWISH Jesus Rabinowtiz 
Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 12:29 AM
Posted by Administrator
I am Jewish and I have some Jewish friends.

A few days ago...last Friday evening, acutally, I was talking on the phone with my friend, Bruce. Bruce is Jewish. He was driving through Sullivan County in upstate New York and, more or less, this is what he said "I'm on my way to South Fallsburg but I'm going real slow. The Hasidim are walking in the road." We agreed that the Hasids were probably walking in the road because it was the Sabbath (sundown Friday until sundown Saturday)...they weren't allowed to drive on the Sabbath (driving is considered work) and they didn't think anyone else should be driving either.

My friend's friend turned out to be from the town next to the town I'm from. I was trying to find out whether the Carvel next to the skate pond still existed. She didn't know what I was talking about. "That's where the Jews are," she said. I realized that she was talking about the intersection of two main streets where....40 years ago...some distant,religious cousins of mine lived. Cousins who had paes (from not cutting the hair above their sideburns resulting in a long curl hanging in front of each ear) and who wore sacramental underwear (note: Mormons also wear sacramental underwear). My friend's friend is Columbian and she probably has no concept of we....the assimilated Jewish person.

And, so, at the risk of being ostracized by the Jewish community (which probably meant to ostracize me years ago), I propose that non-Jews...especially foreigners....who don't know a lot of Jewish people, refer to people they believe are Jewish as: UNUSUAL JEWISH distinguish the overtly and obviously Jewish from those of us who look like the Christians (and most Muslims, Buddists and Hindus).

I'm not saying that we shouldn't all wear yarmucles and wind ourselves with Teffilin every morning (or, at least know how to spell those words) or walk down the middle of Military Trail every Friday at around 6:30PM, I'm just saying that most of us don't.

...and, this way, I won't feel obligated to say "You know, I'm Jewish." and I can just say, instead...between bites of a piece of bacon..., "Yeah, I've met some of those people and when my father was a kid, his family had a Christian come on Friday night and turn the lights off and he wasn't allowed to get his hair cut until he was 4."

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CROSS Jesus Rabinowitz 
Thursday, July 14, 2011, 09:04 PM
Posted by Administrator
As the oldest among us remember, a man named Irving Younger was America's greatest Continuing Legal Education lecturer. He is dead now but I still have a dozen or so of his cassette tapes. (It has been ten years since I owed a cassette player.) Here is what Irving said were the two rules of successful cross examination:
1) Don't get up.
-Nothing good will come of it; you will screw up your case; the witness you are about to cross examine hasn't hurt you; why ask anything on cross??????
2) Sit down.
-You were dumb enough to get up; the witness you set out to destroy has, instead, filled in gaps in his direct testimony; the more questions you ask, the more damage you will, why are you standing there thinking of something to ask???? SIT DOWN.

Still, lawyers being the arrogant know-it-alls that they are, can't help themselves... When the judge says "Cross examination, Mr. Mason?" Mason has to say "Yes."

Now what?

The idea is that Mr. Mason (Perry Mason for those old enough to remember) is going to tell his (client's) version of the witnesses story and, along the way, stop every few moments and give the witness a chance to agree that he is telling the story correctly. So, (and this is the same thing you do in sales), you want to get the witness to get used to saying "Yes".

Q. "You have known your wife for several years, right?"
A. "Yes."
Q. "And you lived together for all that time, right?"
A. "Yes."
Q. "And the two of you had three kids together, right?"
A. "Yes." want to get the witness to trust you by asking him/her questions that are easy to answer with a "Yes". This also lets the trier of fact (judge or jury) know that you are worth believing...the witness is agreeing that you are being accurate.

.........then the going gets be continued...
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MY TRIP TO Jesus Rabinowitz 
Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 08:16 PM
Posted by Administrator
I went, today, with a friend of mine to Immigration Court. I didn't go as her laywer...but as her driver. I am fairly good at finding Miami....even early in the morning.

She was there, with her family, to have an asylum hearing, After a lot of argument, the Immigration Judge was ready to hear evidence. I waited for my friend's lawyer to say "I call my client." or something like that. He didn't seem to know that was what he was supposed to do. Once she finally made it to the witness stand, he didn't know what to ask her. "I'm going to ask you some things about your application," he said...then he rambled on without a question.

I thought all lawyers (and all TV viewers) knew how to question witnesses. Now, having found out that some may not, I offer this guide. I apologize in advance for the complexity.

#1---Here is how to do DIRECT EXAMINATION (questioning witnesses that you call to support your case..with the kind of question where you aren't allowed to suggest the answer...e.g. "Then, he hit you in the face with the green baseball bat, right?" ...remember "Objection. Leading"? My example IS a leading question.)

Ask these questions instead of a leading question and you are good to go:

a) What is your name?
b) Where do you live?
c) On (insert date or time or some simultaneous "During the fireworks..." or "sometime in late December") did something unusual happen?
d) What?
.......when the witness stops talking follow up with:
e) What happened next?
f) Then what happened?
......when you are done, say:
g) Thank you. No more questions.

The Judge will be thinking "This guy/woman sure knows how to do direct. He/she will be partner with a big firm, soon."

COMING SOON TO THE BLOG: Cross Examination.

See you then....aloha.
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Saturday, July 2, 2011, 11:01 PM
Posted by Administrator
We have now moved. But.......not to 321 S. Dixie Hwy. We thought we had moved there but, yesterday, as we unpacked boxes and set up computers, the landlord walked in. He had the address wrong.....really, we have moved to 325 S. Dixie Hwy.

Ken Menard, who does my websites, will read this and...without my even mentioning it....change the address on my homepage. Then, he will change the iScoot Palm Beach address.

No big deal...we are still on the NW Corner of S. Dixie and Fern.

And we are least we will be on Tuesday, July 5th....promptly at 10:00AM.

......and the blog will leave the whole issue of "moving" and, at around 9:30AM on the 5th, resume its usual rambling.
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Monday, June 27, 2011, 09:00 AM
Posted by Administrator
If all goes according to plan...and, so far, it has....we will be opening at 321 S. Dixie Hwy. in beautiful downtown West Palm Beach at around 10:00AM on Friday morning, July 1st. We have no on-site parking, at all. Sorry about that.

The City of West Palm Beach and several vendors whose parents, when they passed on, left them empty lots do provide parking. The City offers three options:

1-Park on the street and pay 25 cents for every...I am guessing here...ten minutes. Bring quarters.
2-Park in the garage one block North and across the Street---Evernia and S. Dixie----and pay $1 for the first two hours.
3-Park in the lot on the NW corner of Datura and S. Dixie and pay that same $1 for two hours.

The lot is about 2 blocks from the office. The garage is about 1 block. Metered parking is right outside the door on S. Dixie and on Fern.

Across the street, one of the parking vendors charges $5 per day.

Other options:

Park at the City Place garage, take a ticket, see a movie, validate your ticket at the Muvico ticket validator in their lobby and walk 5 blocks.

Park in the City Place lot across from Publix. It is $1 for the first hour and then $1 for each half hour after that. The first 1/2 hour might even be free....I don't remember. Walk two blocks East on Fern.

I believe I have exhausted the subject.

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Monday, June 20, 2011, 08:04 AM
Posted by Administrator
In the 70s, I sold Volkswagens at Volkswagen of Bayside (near where Northern Blvd. goes over the Cross Island Parkway). I was 9 years old and a couple of years out of college. Here is one thing I noticed:

Dentists read the car-buying contract before they signed it. Accountants read it. Plumbers read it. Lawyers didn't read it...they just signed.

At the time, I thought that lawyers didn't read it because they were tricky little devils and knew they could get out of whatever it was they were signing. Years later, I found out that lawyers signed without reading because they knew that if they wanted to buy the car...they had to sign the contract. And that neither I nor Management nor even Sandford Schlit, the "dealer", himself, was going to change the contract or negotiate the terms just to get the lawyer to pay $10,500 for a Scirroco. (Are any Scirrocs still on the read?).

In law school, where classes are taught largely on the basis of the decisions of appeals courts in particular lawsuit cases, in one of my classes we discussed a case involving the second of my post-college employers: The Burroughs Corporation. Burroughs was sued because one of their customers did not so much like it that the million dollar computer they bought from Burroughs did not work-at all. The appellate court...following established law....decided that since Burrough's contract said "THERE IS NO WARRANTY OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE" the computer didn't have to compute. It was enough that Burroughs delivered a box full of wires and vacumn tubes and electro-mechanical switches and servos. The customer lost the case.

One of my clients, iScoot Palm Beach (Witt Palm Beach's premier renter of motor scooters), just signed a 30 page lease for a small space on the corner of S. Dixie and Fern. The lease wss written by a New York lawyer and probably relates best to Manhattan skyscrapers. For instance, it won't be able to have people wash the windows in violation of the labor laws and it will have to comply with a bunch of New York codes and regulations. But, I couldn't expect the landlord to re-write his lawyer-friend's lease just to rent out this little space. And he seems like a nice guy so I figure that everyone will just ignore 29 and 1/2 pages of the lease....and, in the end, iScoot will pay rent and the landlord will let them hang onto the key.

And Burroughs would rather have made the computer work...instead of going to court and relying on their contract language to cheat the customer. But, it was the 60's and they couldn't get it to work......back then, nobody knew how.

But...Shouldn't the computer customer---paying a million dollars (of 1960s money) for new "technology" have had a lawyer negotiate a performance guaranty into the contract for sale?

You'd think.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011, 06:01 PM
Posted by Administrator
STEVEN R. DUHL, P.A. will be moving as of high noon on July 1, 2001.


There is parking at several city lots within a block or two for $1 for 2 hours. There is metered parking outside the office.



We will be sharing some of our space with a completed unrelated business: iScoot Palm Beach. This is the world's premier scooter rental business. As a courtesy to iScoot and to demonstrate our commitment to fun and efficient transportation, anyone who travels to our office on a scooter will be permitted to park inside.

Stop by and see us when you are in downtown West Palm Beach because, as of July 1st, we will be in downtown West Palm Beach.

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Friday, June 10, 2011, 03:29 PM
Posted by Administrator
This happened 10 years ago. The names and locations have been changed. Except for it is...

The rule is that lawyers are not allowed to sit idly by and let their client lie under oath or to the court.

One day, I was sitting in a small room in the Galleria Bldg. in downtown West Palm Beach along with my client ...who had been injured in an auto accident... , the defense lawyer (a high strung woman named Linda) and a court reporter who was busy taking down everything that everyone said. My client owned a small Greek restaurant in Delray Beach. It was mostly takeout and he had only one employee. I had been there and I had met the employee.

My client was claiming, among other things, that he didn't work for a while because of his injuries and that he had trouble, now, lifting.

This is, more or less, how the questioning went:

LINDA: Do you have any employees at your restaurnt?
ME: Could you repeat the question, please.

Linda repeated the question. The answer was still "no".

I said that I needed to take a break and talk to my client. Linda, the other lawyer, was shocked.

LINDA: I'm not going to stop in the middle of the deposition so that you can have a conference.
ME: The rules say that I have to do this.

She did not seem to know what "rules" I was referring to.

Out in the hallway, I told my client that I couldn't just let him lie. "But", he said "my employee is here illegally from Argentina and they will deport him if they find out." I told him that I really didn't think that anyone at the deposition cared about the status of his employee or that the immigration people would come to his restaurant and cart the man back to Argentina.

He seemed to understand. We went back into the room. The court reporter sat down. The deposition started again.

LINDA: Do you have any employees?

We went back out into the hallway. I told him that he needed to answer the question "yes" and say that he had an employee.

The third time was bound to be the charm....

LINDA: Do you have any employees at the restaurant?
CLIENT: Yes (beginning to cry) I have an employee. He is a good man. He is from Argentina and he is here illegally and they will deport him if they find out.

By the end of this, my client was crying his eyes out. He was shaking and rocking back and forth.

Linda now understood what we were doing in the hallway. But, she was by no means done questioning him about that illegal Argentinian man whose existence my client was trying so hard to hide.

LINDA: So, just the one employee?

...ok,then she was done.

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Friday, June 10, 2011, 02:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
In my humble opinion, there is nothing good about ATT. When I moved to my present location, they found it almost impossible to install my phones. They couldn't keep the promises they made to me about internet advertising. Their Yellow Pages salesperson used to scare me so badly that I had to run into my office and lock the door whenever she came.

Today, I got a call from a lawyer I've known for 60 years asking about his client getting his driver license back. It was suspended for not paying a $30,000 judgment. I suggested bankruptcy. Then, the lawyer said:

"When I called your old number, the ATT recording told me to call other lawyers."


Still, I called my previous number: 471-5709. I used to have calls to this number forwarded to 624-6306 but I stopped wanting to pay the $20 a month for that service after a couple of years with a new number. When I called, this is what the ATT recording told me:


I held on and found out that ATT thought I should call Fetterman and Associates in North Palm Beach or Shawn Koplow in Lake Worth or Alan Fischer in Boca.

I immediately contacted my friend, Brian McMahon, who shares space with Koplow and whose blog links to this blog. I texted him: ""I need you to kick the sh_t out of Koplow. Thanks!"

Brian texted me to tell me that Shawn didn't know anyting about it. I texted Brian to tell him that I had no doubt that he didn't know.

Still, even though he didn't know that he was compicit with ATT in all of this, I texted to Brian "Rough him up asap." "He's from Staten Island, he'll understand."

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Thursday, June 9, 2011, 11:27 AM
Posted by Administrator
Where to begin?

Steve____________ on the chairlift at Hunter Mountain Ski Area in slightly upstate N.Y.?

Steve was about to buy a restaurant with partners he'd gotten together at his job cooking lunch for investment bankers in Manhattan. As we rode up on the chairlift on cold winter day with snow from Hunter's fake-snow guns shooting into our faces, he said to me "...and they even showed me both sets of books." By "both sets" he meant that he'd seen the set of books the present owners, the restaurant's sellers, showed the IRS and did their taxes from AND the set that included the cash they took out of the business and put directly into their free.

Steve hadn't done anything wrong...yet. The two sets of books weren't his two sets of books BUT.. Why would he tell me about them? Because I am a a lawyer?

Here is the lawyer-client priviledge correctly (I hope) stated:

WHAT YOU TELL YOUR LAWYER ABOUT PAST STUFF YOU DID IS A SECRET THE LAWYER MUST TAKE TO HIS/HER GRAVE. WHAT YOU TELL YOUR LAWYER YOU ARE ABOUT TO DO IN THE FUTURE (for example, signing a false tax return or testifying in court to a fabricated story...OR applying for a bank loan based on false information) ISN'T PRIVILEDGED. THE LAWYER HAS TO DISCLOSE IT.

Past crimes=a secret.

Future crimes=not so much.

NOTE: The "Steve" referred to was never a client, the writer was never a NY lawyer (though he has been a NY skiier) and the incident happened 30 years ago.

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Monday, June 6, 2011, 11:04 AM
Posted by Administrator
Yesterday, as she looked at a dinner menu, my daughter said to me "What has the least calories?" I thought this was a discussion topic and not a question related to what she was going to order. WHAT IS ITEM HAS THE LEAST CALORIES ON THE MENU? DISCUSS.

My daughter ended up ordering the most expensive thing (as she always does) without regard to carlories and I thought of law school exams. In class, there was only one exam. All of the students brought several "Blue Books" with them to the exam room. Blue Books consister of several sheets of lined paper stapled to a blue cover. The idea was that we would write out our after page after the Blue Books...and then turn the Blue Books in. With the last Book turned in, the semester...and, eventually, law school...was over.

Here is what I remember to be a typical law school test question. This one would be for CONTRACTS.



...and this would prompt the students to write pages and pages and pages....until severe hand cramps set in....about Mutual Mistake Of Fact and Specific Performance and Damamges and Meeting Of The Minds and Consideration.

...except that probably...and especially if this were their first law school test...some students no doubt saw the word "DISCUSS" and wrote the word "NO" in their Blue Books and stood up and left. Then, they moved on to fantastic careers in dentistry or finance or medcial equipment sales. The rest of us started writing...
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:20 AM
Posted by Administrator
A week ago, as I sat innocently in court with my hands folded in my lap, waiting for my case to be called, I heard a local lawyer say, more or less "The Court is running out of money and there won't be any more foreclosures after July 1st." This didn't seem right and, in subsequent versions of the statement, it began to seem like:
-The Court here in Palm Beach had run out of money to hire retired judges to hear foreclosure cases, and,
-It didn't seem like without the retired judge anything much would happen.

I only have a couple of dozen foreclosures. When prospective clients ask how long they'll be able to stay in their house once a foreclosure is filed, I say: "I don't know. None of my foreclosure clients have been kicked out yet and some have been there for a couple of years. But, on the other hand, someone could get kicked out in a couple of months."

Now, suddenly, on foreclosure cases that had been sitting silent for months or years, I have began to receive Notices Of Hearings and Orders Setting Status Conferences and it looks like things might be begining to happen.

But, probably not. Probably all of the nonesense will stop in a few weeks and cases will go back to sitting and doing nothing.

Nobdy wants the market flooded with freshly foreclosed on homes for sale....least of all the mortgage holders.
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We're going to Steve Duhl 
Friday, May 27, 2011, 11:43 AM
Posted by Administrator
We are going to move to downtown West Palm Beach in the beginning of July.

We will be closed the last week in July and the first week in August so that we will be able to eat more easily at restaurants in France, Germany and Switzerland. We will remain available by phone and internet during this time.

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THE T-BONED Steve Duhl 
Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 08:42 AM
Posted by Administrator
This past weekend, as I rode my bicycle through an industrial area of Riviera Beach, I was passed by a flat bed truck with a beautiful blue Bentley sitting on the bed. The only flaw in the Bentley that I could see was that the entire right side had been smashed in...the result of some kind of t-bone accident. Seeing this, I began to reminisce...

About 15 years ago, as I drove home from a hearing in my '86 Mercedes, I sort of rear ended a white Rolls Royce. The damage didn't look that bad to me: the Roll's trunk was smashed in but that was it. The police arrived. A West Palm Beach cop walked over to me from the direction of the Rolls and said "You totaled it." I said "But, it's only a smashed in trunk." He said, "They build them on an aluminum is going to total it." A call from my insurance company a few days later telling me that the damage to the Rolls exceeded the limits of my coverage confirmed that the cop was right.

Since then, I have made it a firm guiding principal of my life to change lanes if I find myself behind a Rolls or a Bentley or a Ferrari. In Florida, if you are the at fault driver in an accident and you don't have insurance to pay the injured parties' damages and you don't have the money to pay it out of your can lose your driver license forever (bankruptcy may get you out of this).

This begs the question: Why do we let rich people drive around in half million dollar cars just waiting for us to hit them and be financially ruined? Shouldn't there be some kind of limit on what I've got to pay you when I hit your car? If you strap the Mona Lisa to your trunk and I rear end you, have I got to reimburse you for what you payed the Louvre for the painting?

But, on the other hand, outside of South Florida....where we've got a Maserati dealer in every town, it is tough to FIND a outrageously expensive car to get into an accident with. Here, you don't even have to're probably following a Rolls Royce right now as you read this on your iPhone...QUICK LOOK UP AT THE ROAD!

I hope the guy who hit the Bently is a hedge fund manager or a drug dealer or a trust fund baby, otherwise, he may end up learning what life is like in the back seat of a taxi cab.

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I LOVE Steve Duhl 
Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 03:11 PM
Posted by Administrator
I love ebay. I love looking at the pretty motorcycles and the used helicopters and airplanes and...because we are in the scooter business...the scooters. The cars are okay, too. Sometimes, I bid but I have never won.

My friend Bruce from New York said our friend Louis once bought a red BMW on an ebay auction but it was crap. So, I should not have been surprised when the white, Ford Taurus we saw on ebay ("drive great" the ad said) and went to look at near Lake Clark Shores would not do over 30 miles per hour.

It was being sold by a car dealer but, because it was a weekend or because he thought people would not speed through his neighborhood, he was selling it from his house. "Don't go fast through the neighborhood", he said, before the test ride "they know that I'm a car dealer and I'll get blamed."

He had said that he didn't know about the dampness that I found under the passenger floor mat (a/c drain clogged) and that in his 30 years of car selling, he'd never checked under the mat. He told us the rear door locks did not automatically lock.

Before the test ride, I mentioned that Ford transmissions have a reputation for ....well, for not transmitting power to the wheels. He did not blink. Later, when I told him the car wouldn't do more than 30 mph...that the transmission was slipping, I expected him to say "Let me drive it, it must be something you are doing." or " "I'm shocked to hear that, I need to get it checked out." But, he didn't.

He just shrugged his shoulders and took the keys back. I guess he was hoping the next test driver would have more respect for his neighbors and keep it under 30. I'll give the guy this: the car drove great at 25.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 10:35 PM
Posted by Administrator
Like all 56 year old lawyers, it is my goal to buy a motorcycle to replace my last, previous motorcycle which I traded for a my wife's insistence...when my now 15 year old daughter was born. This past Saturday, as I sat on my 50cc Kymco scooter, waiting for the Southern Blvd. bridge to close so that I could continue with my trip along A1A to Delray Beach, I asked the man next to me...who was sitting on his '06 Triumph Sprint 1050cc triple what he thought of the bike. "Never had a problem.", he told me. "But", he said "I am a mechanic."

From what I have read, newer Triumphs have a mixed record of reliability. So, the man's recitation of 'no problems' got me to thinking that he might be a little bit inaccurate. And, so, I thought of what the man training me to sell computers in 1976 or 1977, Joe Trivisone, told me:

"Joe", I said "I've got prospects who want me to tell them one of our installations to call before they buy a computer." Joe replied "Tell them to call any one of our customers." "But", I said, none of our customer's computers actually work." (Note: it was the '70's....there barely WERE computers in the 70's.)

"Yeah", Joe said "but none of them will admit making a $100,000 mistake."

Since then I've found out that it is rare that patients will trash their dentist or that people with hair will criticize their hair stylist. The idea is: I chose them...they must be good and, if they're not, I'm not going to admit that I'm an idiot for continuing to use them.

So, it is sometimes best not to go by recommendations or endorsements unless you are sure the recommender or endorser isn't worried that you'll think they're an idiot.

Either way, Triumphs are nice bikes.....maybe I'll take my chances and buy one and just hope that it won't leave me stranded halfway to the West coast.

Maybe I'll just stick to the Kymco.

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BUYER'S Steve Duhl 
Sunday, May 1, 2011, 09:26 PM
Posted by Administrator
Now that the recession is over and we are all swimming in money and about to go out and buy big ticket items, it is a good time to review "buyer's remorse".

Buyers remorse is that sick feeling we have the day after we have bought a big ticket item or make an important deal: car, boat, jewelry....settle your injury case. We want to return it or redo it but either:
1) The seller won't take it back (and you can't, usually, undo signed deals) or
2) We don't want to look stupid in front of the salesperson who we liked enough, yesterday, to buy the thing from, or,
3) We know we'll have the same problem with the thing we buy to replace the boat/car/ring we are having regrets about and we don't want to go through buyer's remorse again.

Here is the reason we get buyer's remorse:
It is illogical and irrational to spend a wheelbarrow full of money on something we don't really need or to agree to a deal we don't have to agree to. For example: We need a Toyota Corolla but we bought a Jaguar. So, before we hand over the money/sign the contract/make the deal, we have to suspend logic. It is the salesperson's job to get us to suspend logic and get us to reach a moment of insanity during which we will BUY.

Here are some things JM Lexus gets its cutomers to reach the moment of insanity:
A) Get customer to stay a long time in order to completely bond with salesperson. Want a test drive? Sit in their comfortable lounge for 45 minutes while the salesperson rustles up a key.
B) Get customer's blood sugar low (which means feed the customer sugar to first get it JM, there is a soft ice cream bar right by the entrance).
C) Design a classy showroom decorations designed to convey that you are not about to buy just a are about to join up into a high class lifestyle.
D) Also, Lexus is a good car.

The day after you buy, the thrill is gone. Blood sugar is normal. At your house, last week's laundry is still on the floor. ...and 60 payments to go on that Lexus....and you really should've taken the black one.

Logic kicks in. Your brain screams "WHAT WAS I THINKING". Your heart sinks into your stomach. You feel like you are about to puke.

There is some good news: buyer's remorse goes away in a few hours...quicker than a stomach flu.

If you buy something big and don't get buyer's remorse either your purchase was an incredibly logical decision or, more likely, you are insane and illogical all of the time.

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STICKER Steve Duhl 
Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 01:33 PM
Posted by Administrator
"Sticker shock" is a reference to the shocked reaction of someone shopping for a $26,000 car at the moment they look at the (Moroney) sticker in the window and see that the car's MSRP is $34,000. They do not buy the car and it is unlikely that the best salesperson on earth could get them to buy.+

+Note: The only exception to this is:
1) Hot salesperson who
2) Gets the customer to believe that not buying right then is a sign of cheapness and
3) That if they do buy, the salesperson will have respect/admiration/ and lust for them.

So, the customer goes home and agonizes over the price, sleeps on it, gets used to the price and comes back the next day. There is no more shock at the sticker price.......the shock all happened yesterday. The Customer is used to, by now, the idea of paying $34K for the car and can move on to the next objection to buying (wrong color, too big, too small, whatever). But, price is no longer the objection that keeps the customer from buying.

Sticker shock happens with buying houses, renting office space, and trying to settle lawsuits. Sometimes, you need a night to let the price sink in. Sometimes, with lawsuits especially, if we spend 14 hours trying to negotiate a deal and blood sugar gets real low and we just want to leave and go home....we can get over sticker shock and make the deal without that night's sleep.

But, we need, at least, that 14 hours.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 08:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
So, we've started a corporation, Layse, Inc. We are publishing notice of our intent to use a fictitious name, iscootpalmbeach, so that we can register the name with the Florida Secretary of State. Using a fictitious name without registering it is, in a minor way, a crime...if customers don't know what entity they are doing business with, they won't know who to sue.

We bought domain names (.net and .com). We've ordered brochures (though the internet at Vistaprint...we also bought insurance over the internet). I wrote the rental contract (after stealing ideas from other rental contracts). We've taken pictures to use on the website. I got a phone number (from google voice 561-444-9993).

I am continuing to look for space in downtown WPB. So far, I have met with three real estate brokers: 1) A well dressed blonde woman; 2) A larger middle-aged Jewish man who carries a giant keychain; and 3) An older man who wears a white hat. I have spoken to people from the city (first call, then when nobody calls up at City Hall).

Things we need besides the space:
-A merchant account for credit cards.
-An actual up and running website.

.......also, a couple of customers.

Note: First five customers get an invite to the yacht.

Additional note: ...once I sell the business and buy the yacht.
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THE LEGAL Steve Duhl 
Friday, April 8, 2011, 08:42 AM
Posted by Administrator
My friend, Bruce, told me yesterday that he got a "legal letter" from his business' contractor, Bob's, son. I assumed the son is a lawyer. I told him that I did not know what a "legal letter" was. Bruce is from New York and it could have been that they have "legal letters" in New York but, I doubted it.

It turned out that the "legal letter" was just a letter that his other lawyer friend, Barbara, told Bruce that he had better respond to or else he would be admitting that what Bob's lawyer-son wrote was true. The "legal letter" theory...would come into evidence at whatever trial was eventually had on whatever lawsuit one or the other of them filed and the proponent of the letter could ask the witness identifying it (presumably, Bob) "Now, daddy, did you receive a response to this letter?"

The answer would be "No" and the lawyer/son could argue ...when it was the time in the trial for argument... that the non-answer to the "legal letter" amounted to an admission that everything the letter said was true. In the case of this "legal letter", the admitted/supposed "truth" would be that Bruce owed Bob a fistfull of money for construction work...that Bruce thought he had already overpaid for...based upon a handshake and the alleged statement from Bruce "I'll pay you the money even though I don't owe you a penny."

Credit card companies and collection agencies frequently base their lawsuits on the idea: WE SENT YOU A STATEMENT OF WHAT YOU OWED AND YOU DIDN'T WRITE US AND TELL US WE WERE WRONG. A cause of action like this is called "Account Stated". I send people letters sometimes saying, FOR EXAMPLE "if you don't send me all of the "lease" papers within the next ten days, I will be forced to conclude that you don't have any papers and that your claim agianst my client is specious and without foundation." Typically, I get a big envelope stuffed with papers in support of their claim a few days later.

I don't know whether you have to respond to a letter making questionable claims if you've already told the sender that their claim is crap. If you feel a need to respond, keep it short. The more you say, the more likely it will be that you wil give them ammunition to use against you in a lawsuit. Whatever you send out, keep a copy. And, to avoid having to respond to letter after letter after letter, write something like this:

"I deny what you are claiming. Take notice that in the future, I am going to throw all correspondence from you in the garbage."

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 03:33 PM
Posted by Administrator
Because I am a patriotic, capitalistic, free thinking American who believes that we can't run our lives afraid of stink'in lawyers filing liability lawsuits every time someone skins their knee, I have accepted a position as vice president of Layse, Inc. Layse, Inc. is dedicated to the rental of motor scooters to anyone over the age of 18 who has a driver license and a credit card that isn't bumping up against it's limit.

In starting Layse, Inc., I have had to spend countless hours navigating through the hoops and barrels set up by politicians intent on hobbling entrepreneurship. Okay, setting up the corporation took less than 30 minutes and cost about 100 bucks and getting an EIN number from the IRS (which we will need to open a bank account) took 10 minutes and was free. Amazingly, the State Dept. of Revenue charges $5 for you to apply to pay them sales and "use" tax if you come into their office --y----but you can apply for free to pay them money if you do it on the internet.

We still need a merchant number for credit cards; we need to get brochures printed; James Tuttle at Easy Computing is working on our website as I write this; and google is letting me have a second phone number to my present phone with a separate message that says:

"You have reached Layse, Inc.'s iscootpalmbeach. We can't take your call right now...but.........".

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Thursday, March 31, 2011, 09:27 AM
Posted by Administrator
The ADVANCED DEALER TRAINING INSTITUTE's MOTOR VEHICLE DEALER APPLICANT TRAINING PROGRAM...which I took, yesterday,...was the best course I have taken since Psych. 101 at the University of Colorado 30 years ago. The school gave Psych. 101 in a local movie theatre because nothing on campus was big enough to hold the flood of students who wanted in.

Yesterday's course was held at the Clarion motel in Lake Worth. A motel which, years ago, turned it's bar into a Perkins Pancakes restaurant. Here is what I learned:

-You've got to check prospective car/motorcycle (yes, even scooter) buyers against the Homeland Security watchlist or else you face a big fine (though nobody on the watchlist has been identified by a car dealer in the 10 years they've been doing this).
-You've got to report cash transactions of more than $10K to the IRS and the Florida Dept. of Revenue to help keep track of the unreported cash of terrorists, drug dealers and hot dog vendors.
-You should not tell a prospective buyer that the used truck you are selling will pull his boat trailer. You should tell him to contact Ford and ask them.
-A recent survey revealed that the most distrusted profession in America is television preacher. #2 is lawyers. #4 is car salesmen.

So, in the 30 years since I've gone from selling cars to being a lawyer, I have moved up least in one survey...from #4 to #2.
I believe this represents a solid performance.
add comment ( 6 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1553 ) Steve Duhl 
Thursday, March 24, 2011, 03:17 PM
Posted by Administrator
iSCOOT seems like it is edging out SCOOTOVER of Palm Beach as the eventual name for the scooter company. To avoid liability, the scooters are actually owned and operated by LAYSE, Inc., a Florida corporation. We are in the middle of making our sub-chapter S election and getting a sales tax number.

The question of which corporate entity is best is better answered by accountants than by lawyers. The benefits of a subchapter S include:
-The owners can pay themselves a reasonable salary...and pay FICA and Medicare tax on that then...
-Take the remainder of the profit out as a distribution and not pay FICA or Medicare tax on that (this saves 7.65% X 2=15.30% in taxes).

Distributions in regular (non-S) corporations are called profits-before they are distributed and dividends when the money is sent out to shareholders. Corporate profits are taxed and dividends are taxed, also (there is a line for dividends on the IRS' 1040 form). To avoid double taxation...and only if you are small can elect to be a subchapter S (or you can take all of the extra money out as salary and pay that additional 15.30% for taxes).

My accountant asked me "Why not an LLC?" I asked her what the benefit was. She said "You can avoid personal liability."

"But", I said "you can do that with a corporation. I thought there was a tax benefit to an LLC." "No", she said, "I thought there was some kind of legal benefit."

I saw a lawyer I sort-of know sitting in court a few weeks ago what an LLC was. He said "It is some kind of corporation but the IRS doesn't recognize it."

The scooter business will not be an LLC.

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ANOTHER 341 Steve Duhl 
Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 08:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
It is unusual that much happens at 341s (the "Meeting Of Creditors" in bankruptcy by the Trustee...that creditors rarely come to). For honest, financially depressed Debtors, it can be over in 90 seconds. For lying, cheating cheaters, the questioning can take longer.

I am not suggesting that today's ex-produce broker (mostly berries, he said..."blue berriest, black berries")...was anything less than honest. He testified (all of this is public record and he wasn't my client) that his business failed because of his business associates.

When the Trustee asked the man's lawyer if he could see a copy of the 21 count federal criminal indictment now pending against the man in Mississippi (apparently charging, among other things, embezzlement), I thought nothing of it. The Justice Department makes mistakes all of the time about who it has Grand Juries indict. When the man said that his Mississippi lawyers (to whom his brother-in-law paid $40,000) were going to get the case thrown out, I thought to myself "No doubt about it."

On the other hand, it sort of mystified me why someone with financially based criminal charges against them would file for bankruptcy. The Constitution says that you can't be forced to testify against yourself in a criminal case. So, why would you file a civil a bankruptcy...and open yourself up to questioning? If you want to get a bankruptcy've got to answer questions and maybe some of those questions will be a lot like the questions the US Attorney's Office might ask you if there wasn't that whole thing in the constitution about not having to incriminate yourself.

I figure I am just missing something.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011, 10:57 AM
Posted by Administrator
For the usual Chapter 7 bankrtupcy, you don't need to see a judge. You do need to see one of the court appointed Trustees...whichever gets your the medical building that the Bankruptcy Court rents space in on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. It is the building two doors North of Good Samaritan Hospital and there is a great view of the Intracoastal and Palm Beach from a window to the left of the elevator landing on the 8th floor.

I was there, yesterday.

And, as I sat waiting for my client's case to be called in the meeting room which is attached to the waiting room, I watched the Trustee question some DEBTORS WITH MONEY.

"I see you have a Rolex. Did you bring it with you?", the Trustee said.

"Yes", the DEBTORS WITH MONEY answered as they handed the trustee a small blue, velvet bag. The Trustee's assistant later noted in her laptop that it was a Presidential Rolex.

"I'm going to need for you to sell out your brokerage account and get me a check and a copy of the closing statement.", the Trustee said.


Sometimes, in these Chapter 7s, the Debtors have to give up some assets. It is almost-never that it is household furniture, or cars or houses but.......I guess sometimes it happens. It is the lawyer's job to anticipate what is going to happen at the "341 Meeting" and to tell the clients what to expect....sometimes even to plan (withint he limits of the law) to minimize what the Debtors will have to give up.

Yesterday, on this one, the Trustee was going to make some money and make a distribution to the Debtors' creditors.

My clients were the last 9:30AM. They had nothing. We were done in 2 minutes.

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Friday, February 18, 2011, 12:52 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today, as I went through a bankruptcy client's bills, I found two FANTASTIC OFFERS. One, from Chase, came in a pretty dark blue envelope. On the outside of the envelope, it said "This is not a lottery ticket. But pull the tab anyway" there was an arrow pointing to a tab and a pull on the tab opened the envelope. Inside, was Chase's offer: pay 1/2 of the $7,655.52 that is owed and Chase will forget about the other 1/2.

At the bottom of this "CHASE SETTLEMENT PLAN" was a note "We are required by the IRS to provide information about certain amounts that are discharged as a result of cancellation of a debt on a form 1099C." The bottom line is that if you take their offer and send them $3,828., they will, they will 1099 you for the $3,828 they are "forgiving" and you will have to report that as income to the IRS and pay taxes.

I saw a similar...though less generous... offer from American Express. They wanted $5,368 to settle a debt of $7,668.

Debt settlement is a great idea if you:
1) Wait a long time and settle for around 23 cents on the dollar.
2) Have assets or income that would preclude bankruptcy.
3) Don't mind the tax consequences (debt "forgiven" by a bankruptcy is not taxable...though GET TAX ADVICE FROM YOUR ACCOUNTANT, DON'T RELY ON ME).

Bankruptcy is a better idea if you:
1) Qualify.
2) Would like to get your credit back quickly (no kidding, bankruptcy is probably better for your credit).
3) Owe more than two or three creditors.
4) Don't have $5,000 or $10,000 or more on hand to pay out to settle debt.

I am not saying that it is stupid for most people to take these debt settlement deals when better alternatives likely exist.

Ok, actually that is what I am saying.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 08:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
Second mortgages here in South Florida are often worthless because ...since home prices have dropped... all of the equity in a house is eaten up by the first mortgage. It would be pointless for the bank or investors holding a second mortgage to foreclose because the end result of a foreclosure is a sale of the property auction.. by the Clerk of Court. And who would want to to bid?

The likelihood is that these second mortgages will be sold, one day, to debt collectors or lawyers in that end of the business for a few pennies on the dollar. The homeowner would one day get an offer that boiled down to: "You can't sell your house without taking care of the second mortgage which we now own...and which you haven't been paying. Give us $XXX in exchange for a Satisfaction of Mortgage and we'll call it even." $XXXX might be, for example, 20 cents on the dollar. On the other hand, no second mortgage holder is going to just walk away without trying to collect something.

So, of course, in the past two weeks I have had one client walk into my office with a foreclosure lawsuit filed by the bank that owns their second mortgage. They hadn't been paying the second in months...they also hadn't been paying their first mortgage. The principal balance on the first was far more than the value of the house. It made no sense that the second would foreclose..... but that is what was happening.

And, of course, as I should have expected, another client called me two days ago and reported that their second mortgage holder had sent them a 1099 tax form for the total amount due on the second mortgage. The 1099 meants that he had to recognize the forgiven debt as income on his 2010 taxes (unless he gets rid of the obligation by filing bankruptcy). The 1099 also meant that the second mortgagee was forgiving the second mortgage ....walking away.

I have been telling clients for a long time that that mortgagees don't know what they are going to do with the bad loans in their portfolios...that it will take a while for things to sort out.

Apparently, I was right.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 06:42 PM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note by Bob Smith: Yes, Duhl used to sell cars. Now if he'd just shut up about it........

Duhl writes:

I got a call this morning from a former secretary of mine (who said I could use her name and tell her story). She had bought a Nissan Pathfinder from a Miami used car dealer over the weekend and was regretting the purchase. She liked the car but she was having buyer's remorse over the deal she made. I called the dealership for her (because she is my former secretary, not because I do car-dealer-law). This is what I was able to figure out.

She had bought the car for around $18,000. She put $1.5K down and the dealership said it would get her financing for the remainder at 4.9% interest. Presumably, the dealership told her this so that they could "make the deal" and send her home with the car...they would worry about the details later. The lore of the car dealer business is that if a customer doesn't leave the lot with a car......they'll never see them again.

One of the details the dealer would worry about later was that no bank was going to lend Nellie the rest of the money to buy the car and certainly not at 4.9% interest. Credit is tight. She has a good "Beacon Score" but she only has low-limit credit cards and has never financed a big purchase.

When I called the dealership, I was told that they probably would be able to get her a loan with only the $1.5K down....through a credit union and at 10% interest. So, the dealership would have to get Nellie back in to sign new loan papers at the 10%.

Or, alternatively, the dealership could just hold onto the loan, themselves. When the dealer had Nellie sign the loan papers, they intended to sell the loan to a bank for the full face value and "without recourse". "Without recourse" means that the bank or credit union that bought the loan from the dealer couldn't come back and demand that the dealer pay the money if Nellie didn't. The dealer could just be the lender...and make good on their deal with Nellie. Or, assuming the dealership itself were credit-worthy, they could sell the loan "with recourse"...and guaranty that the buyer would get paid...either by Nelly or by them.

But, in reality, what the dealership is going to do is call Nellie...probably tomorrow...right around 10:30 AM and tell her that she has to come in and sign more papers. The "more papers" will be a loan at the higher interest rate. Maybe they'll tell her to "bring your checkbook" because they will try to get her to put more money down....all to make the loan saleable "without recourse".

If Nellie refuses to sign the papers, they'll tell her she owes some exorbitant amount for the use of the car for the few days she has had it. Or, they'll point to some language in her contract that requires her to sign papers at a higher interest rate.

When we spoke in the afternoon, she was really, really anxious to just return the car and walk away from her $1,500. I told her to wait until tomorrow and, when the call came from the dealership, to call me. It is always bad to make big decisions when you are upset. And, maybe, she can somehow make the dealership's problem into a benefit for her.

Also, whatever car she buys to substitute for the Pathfinder...there will be problems for her with that deal too.

It isn't that car dealerships are bad, it is just that they are much better at the business of selling cars than we are at the business of buying them. Also, times are tough in the car business so they've got to make money wherever they can. The salesmen have mouths at home to feed...and they need your money to do it.

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Monday, January 24, 2011, 08:04 PM
Posted by Administrator
It has been a while since I tortured blog reader with ramblings about my days in sales and the hugely important stuff I learned:

So, this entry A CHOICE OF TWO YESES is overdue.

Today, I emailed a client telling him that "Yes, I think you should try to make an appointment to discuss settlement with that guy who is threatening to sue you." I wrote "Tell him that you want to meet him at Panera next Wednesday." and "Would 4:30 be good or would 5:00 be better?"

We all like multiple choice questions. One of the choices is the correct answer and we are confident that we will know the answer once we see it. Nobody ever liked just need to know a little too much to succeed at fill-in-the-blank questions.

So, if I want you to do something, I want to ask you to do it with a user-friendly....multiple choice question. Also, since it is easy to say "no"....especially for lazy people and for people who want to avoid your don't want to include "no" as one of your multiple choices. And every "yes/no" question includes the "no" as one of the choices. So, "yes/no questions are not allowed.

"Would you like to buy the blue Ferrari now or the Red one?" "Do you want to buy the Samsung refigerator now or the Whirlpool with the freezer drawer on the bottom?" "Would you rather meet me at 5:00 or at 6:00?"

And, to that gorgeous dark haired woman standing at the bar slugging Tequila shots and looking for trouble: "Are you just buying me a shot or are you buying me a Corona chaser, also?"

Don't scoff. Try it. This crap actually works.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 12:31 AM
Posted by Administrator
For the first time in almost two years, I paid my $2 to park at the foot of the International Bridge, put my twenty-five cents into the sidewalk turnstile and walked into Mexico. The Mexican army's sandbagged machine gun emplacement... which had been at the foot of the bridge on the Mexican side... was gone. The armoured personnel carrier was still there and was surrounded by Mexican soldiers with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders. They were sharing a bag of what looked to be Cheetohs.

Tourists were there, mostly pale-white retirees from Indiana and Minnesota and other parts of the Midwest. Some walked through the streets carrying cups of beer. Six Americans were sitting in my Mexican dentist's waiting room (Dr. Leoncio Olivares...Benito Juarez 117-B). But the tourists thronged only as far as the Canada store...about 4 blocks South of the bridge. Last time I was here, the sidewalks were full-up for another 3 or 4 blocks South.

The economy (at least in this part of Mexico) is not so good. "Shoe shine mister?" "Shoe shine amigo?" I could not walk for more than a few seconds without being offered a shoeshine. I was accosted by at least 2 dozen shoe shiners and shoe-shine-salesmen of every age and (Mexican) description. I had never my dozens of trips to this same town...been offered a shoeshine more than once. The locals are hustling and they are hustling because...financially...they are hurting.

I bought a cheese after being assured that the cheese I was buying wasn't for sale in the U.S. "No vende in Estados Unidos." "Necessita, el queso vende solo in Mexico." (My Spanish has not improved.) And I bought two big bottles of vanilla extract.

Then, without having had my shoes shined, I put another quarter in the turnstile and walked back across the bridge.

And, what awas especially good for both me and my life insurance company: at no time was I murdered by Mexican narco traffickers.

Heck, I wasn't even kidnapped.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010, 04:48 PM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: Bob Smith is a retired South Florida lawyer who now lives in Northern Wyoming, next to the Canadian Border. Bob will be spending New Year's Eve in Medicine Hat at the Tim Horton's donuts. Bob says "Would you believe that the Canadian New Years happens at the same time as the real one?"

Bob writes:

As an old man, I offer these ideas for New Year's resolutions. Try them. You'll be happy you did!

1) Don't agonize over your troubles. It's bad for your health. Some study I read somewhere found that people from the mountains of Georgia (the Georgia in Europe that was formerly part of the USSR, not the one with Atlanta in it) lived the longest because they didn't spend much time grieving about bad things in the past...they moved on. The past is, really, unfixable.

2) Remember that while it is bad to drink too much, a little is probably good. If you don't drink at all...GOOD NEWS! is never too late to start (though if you are under 18, it might be too early.) A few years ago, I made a New Year's resolution to start drinking hard liquor again. I am proud to say that I have been able to stick with it.

3) Spend some money. We are capitalists here and capitalism doesn't work if we all keep our money in our pockets. Can't think of anything to buy? Let me know. I'll send you a list along with my address.

4) Quit trusting politicians. They are all bad (except for people like Michael Bloomberg in New York who is a billionaire so at least you know he's not doing it to get rich off of corruption.) You trust Sarah Palin. Admit it. You do. You can't concieve of a middle-aged woman as good looking as her being as bad as all those other know-nothing-Bible-thumping-freedom-limiting-tax & spend-idiots. I am sorry to tell you that you are wrong. She is as bad. Probably worse. Still, next snowmobile race I go to, I'm rooting for her husband, Todd. Hey, I can kinda see Sarah's back yard from my porch so it's almost like we're neighbors.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 10:04 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yesterday, my daughter Aryanna's Shetland Sheepdog, Sparky, ran away when I opened the gate to get my truck into the back yard. After I hitched up my boat trailer to the truck, I found Sparky on the next block and, figuring that he needed an activity, instead of dropping him off at the house, I took him with me on the boat.

Sparky and I passed by a mantee near the boat drop off then we motored over to the Palm Beach Inlet. Sparky was not so happy with the boat bouncing through the Inlet so we came back in and headed North. We were about 300 feet off of Peanut Island and directly across from the Riviera Beach Tiki Hut when a Southbound Coast Guard boat turned on its blue strobe lights. The Coast Guard boat was an orange rigid-hull-inflatable with an aluminum cabin large enough for six or eight Coast Guardspeople. It had three 300hp Suzuki outboards hanging off the transom and a .50 caliber machine gun a few feet aft of the bow.

I turned towards the Coast Guard boat and shut down my engine. I called out to a blue uniformed young man with a semi-automatic pistol strapped to his thigh "You're going to do all the work, right?" Because I figured that with their three engines it would be easier for them to manuever alongside me than it would be for me with my single engine to manuever alongside him. The man replied "No." But, my engine was off, so, the reality was it was going to be up to them.

I threw him my bow line and he tied me off to a cleat on the starboard side of his boat, near the bow. There was a very attractive blue uniformed blonde woman with a clipboard on her lap sitting behind the man. Behind them, on the port side of their boat, was a very attractive brunette who didn't say anything and, so, was either: a) being standoffish, or, b) guarding that side of their boat from possible attack from Peanut Island.

They asked me for my registration and ID. I was told that it wasn't a safety check but that we were stopped as part of their anti-terrorism patrol around the Port of Palm Beach. The man said that it was a random which he meant that he didn't want me to think that Sparky and I fit into some kind of boater-terrorist profile.

Now, I am not a great constitutional scholar but I sort of remember the reasons the cops are allowed to stop you (since there is that whole thing about our being "free from unreasonable seraches and seizures" in the Bill of Rights)....and, for purposes of this discussion, "cops" includes the Coast Guard.

1) If the cops have a reasonable suspicion that you are engaged in criminal activity...or that you have violated a staute or ordinance. An example of this would be allowing your boat to produce a wake in a no-wake zone. Sparky and I were wake-free.
2) In a border area for the purpose of policing the border and keeping out contraband and illegals. A border area stop doesn't require reasonable suspicion and we could have been stopped for no reason at all. And the Intracoastal Waterway connects with the ocean with connects with the rest of the word, so, we certainly were in a border area. But, I asked the Coast Guard man whether their stopping us was related to our being in a border area. He said "no".

I really don't think that the Coast Guard is allowed to stop boaters to make random checks having nothing to do with boating safety and nothing to do with policing the border. The Riviera Beach Police couldn't have made a legal RANDOM stop of my truck while I was driving on the flyover above the Port just because they thought that would be a good way to stop terrorism (though if my truck has a broken taillight lens...or if the cop stopping me says it is broken...then the stop is ok).

But, it doesn't matter if the stop is legal or not unless you get arrested as a result (and neither Sparky nor I was arrested) or unless you do something about it. So, I could call the American Civil Liberties Union and ask them to sue the Coast Guard and to get a Court order requiring that they stop their shennanigans. But, on the other hand, if my boat sinks I'm going to call the Coast Guard and Coast Guard boats are kind of cool looking. And they were nice to Sparky and me. Also, did I mention that the Coast Guard women were kinda hot?

The man handed my ID to the blonde woman and she wrote my information down on her clipboard. She asked me for my phone number and I thought "That's a violation of my privacy." Then, I thought, "My business number is on my website...I try to get people to take down the number." So, I gave her 624-6306.

At about the time I was giving the blonde my phone number, I heard a woman's voice come over a radio speaker in the cabin of their boat. "There are two boats in the inlet and they're about to get into a fight.", she said. Everyone waited for me to get my engine started before the Coast Guardsman at the helm turned on their siren and theytook off towards the Inlet.

I know I should be more upset about the illegal stop than I am and I apologize for my lack of upset-ness. After all, if we lawyers don't cause a ruckus when the government trample our rights, who is going to? But, to be honest, I like the Coast Guard. And if the brunette had been the one asking for my phone number, I would have give her my cell.

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Friday, December 17, 2010, 09:47 AM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: Jesus Rabinowitz is a (temporarily) un(der)employed Florida lawyer who is busy finishing up his second book...working title: THE DAY BEGAN QUITE WELL.

Yesterday evening, there were only re-runs on prime time TV, so, I decided to conduct an investigation into what happened if I asked for a referral from a lawyer referral service. I fired up the lap top, put "bankruptcy attorney palm beach gardens" into google and, .000023 seconds later, I had pages and pages of informaiton. Like all good consumers, all I cared about was the first page.

The first results page was chock full of paid-for returns. I could not tell who was being paid: google adwords, att, some other vendor? Most of the returns were for actual, flesh and blood lawyers. But, after scouting around, I found a return from "". I clicked.

I was directed over to what appeared to me to be the website. I was asked to answer a few questions by checking boxes. How much did I owe? There were four or five choices. What was my big problem? The choices included garnishments and lawsuits and lots of other bad stuff.

On the next page, I was asked my zip code and contact information. After I filled it all out, I was assured by the website that they would assign me the most appropriate bankruptcy lawyer they had in their databank.

Today, I received an email from, it read "Your request has been approved." I really don't think they disapprove anybody's request for a referal to a lawyer who particpates in their marketing campaign but, still, I guess this was GOOD NEWS! And, I believe it was beautifully worded. People filing for bankruptcy were probably happy to the past...that their credit application was "approved" and that they would be getting a new credit card so, why not make them happy by telling them that their request for a bankruptcy lawyer had been "approved".

The email told me that I was going to be referred to a lawyer named Ed Port because...based upon analysis, Ed would best fit my needs. Really, based on what knew about me...based on the few questions I answered...any lawyer who had filed bankruptcies for a while would be fine and I should probably make my decision based on price.

But.....and I want to be clear about this...while I don't know Ed Port, I do know who he is. And I have never neard a bad word about him. And nothing I have written above is intended to disparage Ed in any way.

In fact, if I was going to file for bankruptcy and and I didn't know Duhl, I might hire Ed Port. AFter all, I have been approved.

add comment ( 5 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 1353 ) Steve Duhl 
Friday, December 17, 2010, 09:37 AM
Posted by Administrator
I am going to open a second office at Donia Robert's office on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in Belle Glade. This is a few blocks East of Tom Montgomery's office and a couple blocks South of Mamie Washington's office. Also, it is across the stret from the Elk's Club and kind of diagonally across from the U-Save. I will be there twice a week beginning the second week of January.

This will give me two (2) offices. The main office in Palm Beach Gardens (near the corner of Military and Northlake) and the Belle Glade office. CONTRARY TO WHAT ATT AND YP.COM would have you believe:
1) I do not have an office in West Palm Beach...and 9091 N. Military Trail is not in West Palm Beach. It is my office address in Palm Beach Gardens.
2) I do not have an office in Wellington.

Also, my phone number is 561-624-6306. It is not the number that ATT of published in certain internet advertising.

Hopefully, the address problem with be corrected today. And, hopefully, I will disappear, today, from all paid-for internet advertising.

But, I can always be found........for (and, also, in Gardens and Belle Glade).
2 comments ( 10 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 3 / 252 ) Bob Smith 
Thursday, December 16, 2010, 04:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
It appears that Att and and Duhl have reached a peace.

add comment ( 4 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |   ( 2.9 / 667 ) Steve Duhl 
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 09:56 AM
Posted by Administrator
I was quite surprised, yesterday. Here is what happened:

At a Domestic Violence---throw my client out of the house---hearing, the other lawyer asked her client:

"Who did your husband call at your place of employment?"

Since this question was likely going to be answered based on what her fellow workers told her, the question asked for hearsay. That it, the question was designed to find out what she supposedly heard other people say...and the people were not in court to testify and be subject to cross examation by me. So, I objected:

"Objection, calls for hearsay.", I said.

And the Judge said "You think that 'hearsay' is an objection?"

And I said "It is up to you whether it is."

And, so, I guess I found out that in Domestic Violence hearings, hearsay is okay as long as it doesn't provide a substantial part of the foundation for the court's determination.

Does this change anything at all? Does it matter that I didn't know that the dumb-ass legislature had changed a rule that has served us well in keeping evidence reliable and believable...a rule that has been around since the English were in the dark ages (most of our law comes from England?

No, for two reasons:

1) It is muscle memory to object. When you are about to hear hearsay, you object. You don't think about possible exeptions. That is the Judge's job..or the job of the lawyer on the other side who is grying to get the hearsay in. Calls for hearsay? You jump.
2) Objecting to hearsay...even if your objection is overruled, reminds the Judge that he or she is about to hear a bunch of crap. ...what the witness says that someone told them. How easy is it to make that up?
3) When it is your turn to present evidence, you are going to ask for hearsay if you need it to prove your case. So, why trouble yourself too much about the actual rule?

OK, that's three reasons.

When it was my turn to put on evidence, I asked my client what his friend's friend said she saw the wife do a few weeks before.

The other lawyer said "Objection, hearsay."

And the Judge said..... You already know what the Judge said.
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LAWYER Jesus Rabinowitz 
Thursday, December 9, 2010, 09:20 AM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: Jesus Rabinowitz is a (at the moment) unemployed lawyer who lives in Jacksonville. Jesus is half-way through completing his second book and, he asks: Does anyone have a publisher for a best friend?

Editor's Note by Bob Smith posted on December 16 @ 4:02PM: It appears that Duhl and ATT,, etc. have reached a peace. The following, therefore is intended for philosophical reflection only.

I sometimes joke with people (usually advertising salespeople) that I should have quit being a lawyer ten years ago and taken a job selling lawyers advertising. When I graduated from law school, the Florida Bar was just beginning to recognize that lawyers had free speech rights and lawyer advertising...tacky or not...could not be prohibited.

In the twenty years since, lawyers have gone from small, tasteful ads in the Yellow Pages to providing most of the revenue for the Yellow Pages and from occasional commercials on TV to half of the commercials on TV. Lawyers now appear on 40% of the billboards in the County, on most taxi-cab-top signs that are not touting Mr. T's Lounge or Cheetahs and on the backs of most of the PalmTran Buses. There probably is an irony in seeing lawyers faces stained by diesel bus exhaust...but the irony is lost on me.

Today's advertising frontier is the Internet. (Okay, it was yesterday's advertising frontier but I am just getting up to speed.) A website isn't enough, lawyers and law firms need to pay to have their website come up on the first results page. They need to pay to come up when an internet user types "West Palm Criminal Defense Lawyer" or "DUI lawyer" or "Bankruptcy Attorney Palm Beach Gardens" into Google or Bing.

Because the legalbagel blog always has new content and search engines like new content, Steve Duhl shows up on the first results page when users type in "Steve Duhl" or "steveduhl" or "Steven Duhl" and I show up when users type in "Jesus Rabinowitz". But, it is a struggle to stay on that first page and it is harder for people with common names. There aren't a lot of Steve Duhls or Jesus Rabinowitzs out there.

A month ago, Duhl (thought he) made a deal with ATT for hits on Google and Bing. 170 hits a month, he thought. And the kind of hits you get when people input the kind of lawyer and the location...not hits for "Steve Duhl". So, far, it isn't going well. Too many lawyers made the same deal, I think,....and there are just so many hits to go around.

What will ATT do to fix the problem? Can they do anything?

I, Jesus Rabinowitz, will keep you posted.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 09:23 PM
Posted by Administrator
Blog contributor Jesus Rabinowitz can be contacted at or become Rabinowitz's friend on FACEBOOK.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 02:12 PM
Posted by Administrator
1) Buy Uninsured Motorist insurance when you buy your car insurance. If you don't have it, call your agent and upgrade. If you are injured in an accident and the other driver---the one who caused the accident---doesn't have liability insurance, you won't recover any money unless you have UM (or, you get hit by a rich guy).

2) In Florida, you don't have to have liability insurance. But, if you get into an at fault accident and you don't, you will probably have your driver license suspended. Bankruptcy, if you qualify, will solve this problem.

3) Insurance agents make more commission if they sell you PIP with a deductible. (PIP is what pays $10K---or less--of your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.) But, if you have a deductible on your PIP, you may have trouble getting a doctor to treat you without cash up front.

If you have questions, give us a call. (Or, call those guys whose pictures are on the back of the Palmtran buses.)

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Monday, December 6, 2010, 08:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
In the beginning, 25 years ago, when I had a lot more hair, getting divorced was expensive. This was before the days of

This was before the days of judges mistrusting lawyers and reviewing and changing what the parties agreed to. This was before judges quit trusting lawyers who said "Judge, the child suppport is according to the guidelines." and, so, it was before judges started doing the child support math themselves. This was before twenty page PARENTING PLANS. It was before MANDATORY DISCLSOURE. It was before the day that committees of over-eager lawyers came up with new complicated rules for the rest of us to follow and new and complicated forms that ran up the cost of what was already expensive enough.

It was before the legislature decided that we all should split time up with the kids 50/50. It was back when we knew that a lot of parents who said that they wanted the kids half the time were really just trying to get out from having to pay child support.

I had a mediator, talking to my client and the other side a few days ago say: "...and if you don't work everything out, the judge will probably send you back to mediation." Which implied, I guess, that the time that I am talking about was back when judges were still trying cases.

All of this was back in the day when there were fewer lawyers which meant, on the one hand, that there was less competition. And the increased competition that exists now should make prices lower. But it was also back in the day when lawyers had too many cases and they didn't have to run up their bill on just a few cases to make the payment on their yacht.

I am not complaining that getting divorced is more complicated and costly than it was 25 years ago. But I would figure that there are a lot of other people complaining about that I don't have to.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010, 12:58 PM
Posted by Administrator
Editor's Note: The blog's writers are suffering from collective bain freeze (except for Rabinowitz who is hard at work on his second book..). Will there be a new entry tomorrow? Maybe.

In the meantime,there are 15 pages of entries behind this one.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 05:25 PM
Posted by Administrator
Adcorp did replace my signage at the el Bodegon,as they had promised to do. Was it because Adcorp was afraid of the power of the blog.......or just because they wanted to do the right thing. You be the judge.
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THE COST OF A Jesus Rabinowitz 
Monday, November 29, 2010, 07:45 PM
Posted by Administrator
I do no represent people who have recieved traffic tickets (unless they are for criminal offenses, for example: reckless driving & DUI). There are lawyers who do civil traffic violations full time. When I land up having to go to court for a ticket received by a relative, I walk into the courtroom and make a beeline for one of the traffic ticket lawyers. They are usually sitting at a table in the front, left of the courtroom in front of a tall stack of thin files.

"I'm stuck doing this for my ________.", I say. Every lawyer I have approached in traffic court for free advice about my _________'s tickets has been very helpful....they look at the ticket, think, then tell me what to do. _________ has a clean driving record. (Actually, it has been a long time since __________ has been ticketed so, even without me ___________ would have clean record.)


I just got off the phone with a major insurance company. I will not say which one but I will give this hint: it is is not company that does not have a gecko as a spokesanimal. I saved over $100 a month on my insurance premium by switching to this company