Law Weak


    If you think the practice of law is for the weak of heart, think again. And, if you’re an attorney, here’s some proof that you really aren’t crazy.

    Bob Kruse, an attorney with Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, contributed a column to the firm’s spring newsletter (Legal Ease) titled “Law Is Stranger Than Fiction.”

    If you’ve ever watched Ally McBeal or The Practice, or even The First Years, you may not be inclined to agree. But Kruse offers some anecdotes that would hold up well in a court of law.

    Here are just a few of those nuggets:

    — Both Sides Now: In California, Orstes L. brought suit against himself for bilking his own trust fund. He asked for a default judgment against himself because he had failed to answer his own complaint. The court decided both parties should pay costs.

    — Aliens Among Us: In a Tucson murder trial over the death of two women, Robert M., acting as his own attorney, claimed that space aliens forced him to commit the crimes. “I know it sounds crazy,” he admitted, but alien apparently promised to raise him from the dead if he was executed. Prior to trial, the judge deleted several UFO experts from his witness list, as well as Barry Goldwater, Jimmy Carter and GeraldFord

    — Are You Calling Me Yellow?: During his murder trial, Jake W. was at odds with his attorney, Robert V. Despite this, Robert V. presented arguments in front of a federal judge while Jake W., half dressed in a jailhouse protest, proceeded to urinate on Robert V.’s leg. Following the incident, the judge instructed Robert V. to continue his argument. Attorney V. said, “I have made my point, judge, in writing. I guess Mr. W. has made his point, not verbally, but by urinating on my leg.”

    — Where’s Russell Crowe When You Need Him?: Finally, one man’s justice is another man’s gladiator. In Wisconsin, James O. was convicted of killing a police officer while taking hostages during a bank robbery. He received two life terms plus 625 years. Mr. O. acted as his own attorney and suggest an alternative sentence to the judge. He proposed ancient Roman-style “trial by combat” in which he and one of the officer’s sons would be given guns to fight it out. The result of the encounter would determine his sentence. This request was denied.

    • Watch your tongue. Kruse also passed along the information that The Attorney Discipline Board in Michigan recently ruled that an attorney would not be disciplined for calling an opposing lawyer a “shyster” and a “lying SOB” during a telephone discussion. The board indicated that it was not going to serve as a “language referee for lawyers.”

    No word on whether a client calling an attorney the same thing would be treated in a similar fashion.

    • When should you call a lawyer? When you need a contract that’s written in “plain English,” of course.

    The Home and Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids did just that recently when enlisting the services of DavidCharron and MarkHarnisch, of Charron & Harnisch PLC, to rewrite five contracts and two forms commonly used by the association.

    “The mission and goal was to structure them to be user friendly to both the buyer and builder by breaking down the communication barrier that existed in the past because of confusing legal language,” according to JudyBarnes, executive director.

    It’s sad contractual language is a stumbling block and building the house becomes the easy part of the process.

    • Money guru EricErickson offers some thoughts on why the stock market is going up in a story on page 10 today.

    If the rate cut and the race among money managers to be first still don’t provide enough evidence for the market’s climb, maybe golf will. Yes, golf, that Zen-like game which mysteriously affects everything, including Sunday church attendance.

    Erickson is an avid golfer. He played at least one round locally each month for a stretch of 58 straight months, or 4.83 years in human terms, a time frame that covered the market’s biggest gains. His consecutive string of monthly rounds ended in February, a month the market would rather forget. A coincidence? Perhaps. But, perhaps not.

    On eight of 10 days this season in which Erickson didn’t play, the market fell. In nine of the 10 days he did play, however, the market rose. And on two of those recent playing days, records were set on Wall Street.

    “The longer I played,” said Erickson, smiling, “the higher (the market) went.”

    • State Rep. BarbVanderVeen is hosting legislative hearings designed to reduce health care costs (see Comment, page 4). Those very important sessions begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 15. For information, call (517) 373-0838.

    But just so you don’t go unprepared, here are some Emergency Room definitions of terms that might be just a bit foreign to the casual observer.

    For cardiac patients, some examples include MUH (messed up heart); PBS (pretty bad shape); PCL (pre-code looking) and HIBGIA (had it before, got it again).

    Agitated patients could be referred to as CCFCCP (Coo coo for Cocoa Puffs), while trauma patients may get the acronym TBC (total body crunch).

    If the trauma is from a gunshot, the patient has “trans-occipital implants.” If he or she needs endotracheal intubation, expect a “PVC challenge” to occur.

    Death resulting from such trauma can be referred to as ART (assuming room temperature), CC (cancel Christmas), CTD (circling the drain) or NLPR (no longer playing records).

    Now at least everyone can speak the same language, whether it’s legal or medical.

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