Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring - Hopes Eternal

March – Hope, Springs Eternal

First: A moment of silence for those who have died in the Christchurch earthquake. Last Saturday, as I rolled out of bed, the tragedy of the earthquake was being played on the international news. My mother’s response was, “See, good thing you don’t live there anymore.” I just looked and she said, “Where is Christchurch from you anyways?” I said, “It was awhile away.” Two American States also lie on the Pacific Ring of Fire: California and Hawaii. So, earthquakes are a great reality in both those places.

Spring is coming, March 20th to be precise. I used to love the coming of Spring, when I lived in New Zealand. Winter was such an icky and yucky and frankly a depressing time. I suffer from that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), so without natural sunlight I just start feeling down. When you get rolling clouds that come in and never stop, it feels like unending darkness.

However, in California Spring is a different kind of season. There are no real seasonal fruits or vegetables. It seems like, if you want an item in LA, it’s available to you no matter the time. You just have to pay the right price. Yet, one item I love buying for my mother or other girls is tulips. Those have come into bloom.

And with that Romantic discussion of seasons, I can say business is kicking. Remember how I’m suing the City of Los Angeles? Well, I finally finished the first draft of my complaint. A complaint is the first document in a law suit. The plaintiff (the person suing) needs to write up what the defendant did wrong and what they are suing for (such as a breach of contract, or fraud, etc) and what they are requesting (usually money). In my case, though, I was suing for an injunction. An injunction is a court order that tells the City you are no longer allowed to do this. In my case, I want them to shut off those damn red light cameras.

I spent a lot of time in the library. It was very frustrating. I had very little guidance, which I could have found useful from an experienced attorney. And my area of law, seems to be a perplexing one as it is. There I was, with stacks of stacks of books on the library table. I had my netbook. And I started typing away or thumbing through the books to find the bad things the city needs to be accountable for. In the end, on a Thursday night, I had finished the draft. I have a four legal causes of action against the City: 1) The City shifts takes away the citizen’s fundamental right of innocence (called Burden of Proof). 2) The City uses illegal evidence against citizens. 3) The City is maliciously prosecuting its citizens to make money. 4) There may be a constitutional violation of illegally taxing those who come out of state. 5) The City violates California law when the California law says the City can only charge $100 per ticket. Let’s see how the City responds.

This is not the only war I’ve been fighting. My mother lost her case in court; however, her judge used to work as a lawyer for the defendant. NOT GOOD. Actually, it was illegal for him to be her judge. He was required by law to recuse himself. Yes, even in Western countries it appears that the hint of corruption exists. I researched the law. Figure it all out. Yes, I was right – he was required to recuse himself. Under the guidance of a lawyer, I wrote up the memorandum to have my mother get a new trial.

In a war, you come up against many battles. This is the story of a pivotal battle to win. As my mother was ready to file the memorandum, the small claim clerks roadblocked her. They wouldn’t accept the paperwork. Time was running out. She only had 30 days to re-file. She calls me on the phone, “Paul, what do I do? They aren’t taking the paperwork.”

“Argue with them mom. The clerks have to take the paperwork by law.”

“No, they won’t! They won’t.” I can hear the frustration and helplessness in her voice. I feel terrible too.

“Ok, let me do my best. Give me the names of all the people, who are being mean to you.” She gives me their names.

I make certain calls to supervising judges, explaining the law and situation. They finally transfer me to the manager of small claims. I explain the situation and the names of the small claim clerks. Then I said, “How is it that they’re not accepting my mother’s paperwork? Are they lawyers? Can they give legal advice? You know, I can report them all to the State BAR now.”

She says, “Give me the code and cases you’re looking at.”

I give her the code and law.

8 hours later, I get a phone call. “Mr. Cook, I’m the small claims supervisor. I’m here to inform you that we can take your mother’s paperwork.”

“Thank you. However, I want to let you know that your employees Richard and Jenny were getting in the way of due process. You do understand that right? And you do understand they can be reported for such behavior.”

“I’ve duly noted it.”

I call mom. “Go take your paperwork back.”

She did. She called me and said, “I don’t know what you did, but they were really nice to me. All these time, I thought you just ate, holidayed, drank, and drank coffee. But now, I know you actually have a good mind up there.”

I was thinking: Is this a compliment? In any event, the pivotal battle was won. Note to self: When you have ignorant gatekeepers, talk to their masters. That sorts things out really fast.

I had another Moot Court case. I didn’t do as well as last time. Part of the problem was that my first panel had a judge that was late and a judge that was absent. I then had this one judge that for some reason didn’t gel very well with the group. He seemed to be mad at all of us. He was also running the show, since his presence was so strong compared to the students. I guess this can happen in real life. What could I do? The second round did much better, but I was still so disappointed in myself. Mainly because I had worked so hard, for it all to go so wrong with a judge who didn’t really understand the law. My legal issue was so complex. Perhaps, the most complex area of Criminal Procedure right now. Criminal Procedure deals with search and seizure and the limitations of what the government can do to impose those searches and seizures. The hardest area of law in search and seizure doctrine is can the governments search and seize students in high school. It’s complicated. But as someone said, often times the lawyer will know more in that area of law than a judge will know. It’s your job to translate that information back in a simplified and coherent way back to the judge. But we live, learn and improve.

So, things to celebrate from last month???

· I’ve been running 3 miles every other day.

· I’ve been spending more time with family.

· I suppose winning the victories against the clerks was nice.

I guess I need to do more in the month of March.

I hope everyone is well. More to come.

Signing off from the Big Island of Hawaii,
Paul Cook