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Archive for the month “June, 2015”

LIFE IS NOT FAIR

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

• Here is a tip: life is not fair.
• Here is second tip: the law is not always fair.
• Here is a third tip: just because laws are on the books does not mean that some entity will apply them fairly, or indeed at all.

Some readers may be surprised to hear these tips. A day doesn’t pass in my law practice when several callers tell me that they have been the victim of some misdeed, outrage, inappropriate conduct, criticism, discipline, or discrimination, as the case may be, which they are certain is against the law, based on knowledge acquired in the print media and on the Internet. Although I often agree with them, I also tell them that just because thousands of laws have been passed by various government bodies, there is often no enforcement authority or agency attached, and if they are attached, they often do…

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Former High School Softball Players’ Suit On School Religious Activities Moves Ahead

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Ryan v. Mesa Unified School District, (D AZ, Dec. 5, 2014), three former members of a Mesa, Arizona high school varsity girls’ softball team sued the school district and the softball coach, Joseph Goodman, over various religious activities. The court held that plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the school’s LDS Church released time program. However, the court permitted plaintiffs to move ahead with two other claims, but only against Coach Goodman:

First, the court allowed an Establishment Clause claim alleging that during the 2013-14 girls softball season, certain players were appointed “prayer leaders” to lead a team prayer at the beginning of every game. Plaintiffs were dismissed from the team after one of them announced, and the others supported, an end to these prayers.

Second, the court allowed a free speech claim growing out of a 2014 softball tournament where hip-hop and other popular music was played to get players in a proper mental state for the game. One of the plaintiffs, the daughter of an LDS Church member, found the music offensive to her religious sensibilities. During the same tournament, the LDS parent of that plaintiff read a speech from a Tweet by another of the plaintiffs, and the content of the Tweet was reported to Coach Goodman.  Apparently this was related to the reason for plaintiffs’ dismissal from the team. ”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Tactical Retreat: All Roads Lead to Cleveland

My friend and co-worker Brian M. Lambert has founded an online sketch comedy project called Tactical Retreat which you can find here on Facebook and here on Youtube.

As Tactical Retreat releases new videos, I will post them here.  So far, I have found them rather funny and clever and they seem to get better with each release.

Here are the links to Tactical Retreat‘s previously released sketches:

Tactical Retreat‘s latest sketch is entitled “All Roads Lead to Cleveland” can be viewed below.

Yesshirts: Yes’ Concert T-Shirts 1991 to the Present

I have seen the progressive rock band Yes many many times over two plus decades, as summarized here.  One of the traditions I have established over the years of attending Yes shows is to purchase a concert T-shirt, and to wear the shirt from the previous show, at each show I attend; this tradition has been maintained in an unbroken sequence since 1994.  Yes, you heard that right, I wear Yes concert T-shirts at Yes concerts.  Yes, I am “that guy” and proudly so!

So, needless to say, over the years I have accumulated a ton of concert shirts and I thought it would be fun to share some photographs of them and identified per tour.  Some of these were put into storage a while ago at this point so I apologize for how wrinkled some of them are.

I hope you enjoy the collection and if you have others I do not have, especially older ones, please feel free to share them in the comments section!

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Parental Kidnapping

So, it seems a little counter-intuitive to suggest that a parent could kidnap his/her own child, but there are times when, indeed, this sort of thing could indeed happen.

Most children are not subject to a court order for custody.  When there is no custody order entered by the court, each parent has one-hundred percent (100%) custody of their children.  So, for example, each parent has a right to make decisions for and about his/her children and take his/her children where ever s/he pleases whenever s/he pleases.  Of course, I am describing the parents’ legal rights.  Common courtesy, let alone respect for the other parent and the give and take of co-parenting, would warrant making decisions jointly with the other parent.

Unfortunately, the relationship of the parents of a child sometimes dissolves or, if they were not together, their cooperative approach to parenting can become less so or even adversarial.  When that happens one parent can (and sometimes does) take his/her child(ren) to some other location without informing the other parent; that location could be across the street or across the country.  If that happens, what recourse does the other parent have?  Well, for the purposes of this blog post, I can tell you one recourse s/he does not have: successfully reporting his/her child(ren) as kidnapped.  Remember when I said that each parent has 100% custody of his/her children above?  Well, this is an important way that fact comes into play.  As each parent has 100% custody of his/her children, when one parent takes his/her children with him/her to some other place without the knowledge or permission of the other, that parent is perfectly within his/her rights to do so as s/he has 100% custody of the children.  As a result, that parent cannot be guilty of kidnapping as one cannot kidnap someone over whom s/he has 100% custody.

The situation changes when there is a custody order applicable to those parents and child(ren).  In that case, if the parent takes the child(ren) across state lines without the knowledge and/or permission of the other parent at a time when that other parent is supposed to have court ordered custody of those child(ren), then the parent who took the child(ren) across state lines can be prosecuted for kidnapping.  The difference is this: a child custody order reduces a parent’s 100% custody to something less than that; a custody order takes away each parent’s 100% custody and replaces it with a percentage of custody proportional to the other parent.  So, for example, a court takes away the 100% custody from both parents and replaces it with granting, say, 70% to one and 30% to the other.  When one parent exercises custody during his/her time (say during the “70%”), that means the other parent does not have custody at that time and will not have custody except during his/her “30%” time.  When a parent has the child(ren) at a time when s/he does not have custody and goes across state lines, s/he is possession of child(ren) s/he does not have custody of at that moment.

To put it in a practical way, let’s say at a hearing one parent gets custody every other weekend while the other parent gets custody the rest of the time.  Obviously, every other weekend is drastically less than 100% custody and losing every other weekend is modestly less than 100% custody.  Either way, it is less than 100%.  So, for example, if the parent with every other weekend went across state lines with the child(ren) on a weekday – a day s/he did not have custody – that would be kidnapping for which/she could be criminally prosecuted for by the Commonwealth.

Keep the above in mind when advising clients, or making decisions as a parent in a custody dispute, in order to stay on the right side of the law!

Claims of Mislabeling of Dietary Supplements Did Not Infringe Free Exercise Rights

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In State of Texas v. Valerie Saxion, Inc., (TX App., Dec. 4, 2014), a Texas state appellate court rejected arguments by defendant and her company that the state was infringing their free exercise rights by proceeding against them with charges that their mislabeling and misbranding of dietary supplements violated the Texas Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Defendant argued that her statements were based on sincerely held religious beliefs.  The court concluded, however:

The twenty-four “practices in pursuit and conduct of trade or commerce” listed by the State in its live pleading do not seek to restrain Saxion from practicing any religious beliefs or expressing any religious opinions….. Rather, the relief sought by the State attempts to regulate the advertising and sale of certain dietary supplements as a proper restraint on commercial speech necessary to protect the public….. Therefore [defendant] … failed to allege a viable ultra vires claim with regard to her free-exercise-of-religion rights and the attorney general’s discretion and authority to enforce the TFDCA and DTPA.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia – June 2015 Update

The Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia’s monthly newsletter is out and can be seen below.  I hope that as the weeks and months progress, the Clinic can continue to grow and flourish in its service to those in need in the Philadelphia area.  Please continue to pray for us and donate to us your time, talents, and treasure as you feel led (if you want to give to our ministry, please see here).  Thanks to everyone who makes this vital ministry possible and thanks, above all, to God from whom all blessings flow.

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Yes Concert Review: 5/10/04

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 2004 during the first part of their Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Tour.  You can read more about this show here.

This was the greatest Yesshow I have ever attended.  It had a little bit of everything, which made for an epic night!  When I became a Yes fan in 1991, after being given a copy of Yessongs, I quickly realized that the “classic” Yes is when Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe are in the band.  Unfortunately, as I was born in 1977, I am far too young to have seen the classic Yes when they were together in the 1970s.  After hearing Yessongs I became an instant fan.  As I was getting myself ramped up on what was happening in Yes in the early 1990s, by going to record stores, listening to the radio, asking around, and looking for references in magazines and stuff (there was no internet to look at in those days!), I learned that the Union experiment (of which Wakeman and Howe were a part) had folded, Wakeman and Howe were out of the band, and the chart topping Trevor Rabin-led Yes was to reform.  Given that the Union experiment appeared to be a one-off thing (outside of that, Wakeman and Howe had not technically been in Yes since 1979 and 1980 respectively), and the Rabin-led Yes then came out with an album (Talk) which performed reasonably well (though below expectations), toured in arenas in support of it, appeared on national television, and came out with a computer CD-Rom program, I thought that was going to be the version of Yes for the foreseeable future, and my chances to ever experience the classic Yes seemed rather bleak.

Then something wonderful happened.

Evidently the experience of making and touring the Talk album was not quite what guitarist Trevor Rabin had hoped, so, in 1995, he decided to leave Yes for Hollywood to make movie scores.  Upon his departure, keyboardist Tony Kaye decided to go into retirement.  The departure of those two musicians left the remainder of Yes looking for a guitarist and keyboardist to replace them.  Lo, and behold, in 1996 both Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe were available and willing to return to Yes and take their rightful places as Yes’ keyboard player and guitarist.  Their return saw the band embark on the Keys to Ascension project (which basically consisted of two studio albums, two live albums, a live DVD, and three live shows) and its promotion.  I was elated that the classic Yes had returned, making new music for the first time in 18 years, and I may have opportunity to see them!

Then something terrible happened.

Due to various scheduling and personality issues (mainly with Wakeman) the classic Yes broke up in 1997, no sooner than it had reformed, and my hopes were again dashed.  Granted, this time period was a strange one, even for Yes, and I was still happy to see Steve Howe remain in Yes, yet that could not shake the disappointment of being so close to seeing the classic Yes.

Then all was made right.

After a couple of lineup shifts (which included recording and touring with an orchestra replacing the keyboardist), and releasing a handful of albums, by the end of 2001 Yes was once again in need of a keyboardist and, as fate would have it, Wakeman was ready willing to return yet again to the Yes fold, and reform classic Yes once again!

This time, the reunification stuck for a while.  The classic Yes went on tour for the better part of the next 3 years (I have reviewed shows from that time period: 8/8/02 and 9/3/04) and released a “best of” with newly recorded acoustic versions of some their songs, as well as a bevy of live albums and DVDs (e.g.: live performances, acoustic performances, and a documentary).

I finally got to see classic Yes and my Yes fandom finally felt legitimate!  I got to see the classic Yes four times (this show being the third of the four) and this show was clearly the best and, in fact, greatest Yes concert I have ever seen.  I stopped dragging my wife to concerts around this time (see here), but she attended this one with me as it was important to me that she not only share Yes with me but arguably the greatest version of the band.  As described in detail below, the reason why this was the greatest Yesshow I ever saw is because I saw it with my wife, it was in a classic arena, it included a classic Roger Dean stage set like they used to tour with in the 1970s (which was introduced specifically for this tour and is another thing I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime), it had perhaps the most diverse and time-spanning setlist they ever played, it included a number of rarities in the set list, and it had an “acoustic” set (which they never really did before), not to mention fantastic performances that lasted nearly three hours.

The band fielded the following line up for this concert:

The set list at the concert is as follows:

Recollections:

As a person in the audience at one of these shows, and having seen Yes 20 times as of this writing (see here), I think it is safe to say that this tour was one of the best Yes has ever done, or, at the very least, the best in Yes’ latter-day history.  This tour was the most recent, and likely the last, Yes tour to take place in arenas instead of theaters, so, needless to say, the shows were pretty large.  The scope of the tour allowed Roger Dean to create one of his large stage sets to set the scene in which the band could play.  Indeed, the stage also included large multiple bass drums which attached to long telescoping arms rotating around Alan White’s drum kit.  Of course, as the concert was performed by Yes’ classic line-up, that makes it special for that reason alone.

Perhaps the best part of this tour is the set-list.  I cannot think of a set list from any other tour that is so long and so varied!  At least thirteen different albums are represented and some extremely rare pieces were played, such as “Every Little Thing” (not played since 1969), “Sweet Dreams” (only played on a couple of tours), “Southside of the Sky” (played regularly for the first time starting in 2002), “Going for the One” and “Turn of the Century” (not played on tour since 1977), Ritual (anything played in full from Tales from Topograhic Oceans is pretty rare), “The Meeting” (an ABWH piece), and perhaps rarest of all are significant segments from the second volume of Keys to Ascension (“Mind Drive” and “My Eyes”) and “Time is Time” (from Magnification) which had never been played live before or since.  The band also included material from the 1980’s when Steve Howe was not the guitar player.  So, as one can see, material from virtually all Yes eras was played from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, even including music from the “technically” (i.e.: legally) non-Yes album Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe.  To make the set-list even more interesting, this era of Yes saw them experimenting with the then 10-year old idea of playing “unplugged.”  During the acoustic segment the large Roger-Dean-created canopy descended to just over the band and they all gathered at the middle of the stage to play acoustic instruments.  Yes converted many of their classics, including things like “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” to acoustic pieces.  So, the attraction for this show was the fact that it was not only a show by the classic line up, but it was also an anniversary show celebrating their 35 years as a band (which coincided with the release of The Ultimate Yes collection), which explains the diversity of material played, and highlighted their new feature of playing their material acoustically (as found on The Ultimate Yes but truly on the fully acoustic show Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss).

In terms of the songs, here are some highlights that I took away from the show: I wish “Mind Drive” was played in full.  It is a shame they chopped it up as they did.  What was played was very good (full disclosure: I like this song) and really brings across the power and innovation of the song though loses the contrasts and dynamics found in the studio version (almost none of the acoustic sections are played live unfortunately).  “My Eyes” is just the chorus from “Footprints” so, needless to say, it was just a tease to the fans who wanted more!  “Southside of the Sky” is amazing and the trading solos at the end of it between Howe and Wakeman is very exciting and really shows off their respective strengths.  The solo trading is one of my favorite moments of seeing Yes live.  “Every Little Thing” is a lot of fun and the first time they played it live since 1969!  It is rearranged from how they played it on their first album, which is itself a rearrangement from how the Beatles played it. The acoustic material makes this set very interesting as the pieces are all reworked for that sort of presentation.  So, for Yes fans who have heard these pieces so many times, this set provides a nice respite: while one can hear some classics they can hear them in new, different, interesting and fun ways as rearranged by the band itself.  Finally, this line-up played a classic Trevor Rabin song (“Rhythm of Love”) and it comes across very credibly.  Wakeman soups up Tony Kaye‘s simple keyboard line and Howe’s solo, while “very Howe” and different from Rabin’s, fits nonetheless.  During the performance of this tour, Jon Anderson strolled around the floor of the arena in the midst of the audience while he sang.  Well done!

The audience was ecstatic through most of the show. Usually the audience is a little more reserved, but I guess the combination of the classic lineup along with the show being at the Spectrum brought out the excitement in people.  I sat at the front row of a section on the floor, so I had an aisle in front of me.  The guy next to me spent the entire show in a sweaty frenzy playing a crazy and thrashing air guitar (I am not sure who he thought he was imitating but Howe certainly does not play quite like that!).  On my other side were some rather over zealous ladies and a guy who would not stop handling them.  Of course, the audience was largely of an age one would expect for a band from the 1970s and I guess they were all trying to relive their days when they saw the classic Yes in their 1970s heyday.

All I can say was that this show was absolutely amazing.  It had everything a Yes fan could ever ask for from a Yesshow.  It had songs from virtually every era of the band (save Drama; even the then very recent Billy Sherwood era was represented at a handful of shows when they played Nine Voices), a great stage set that calls their classic 70s stages to mind, great performances, the classic lineup, and cool quirky features like the acoustic set and a roving Jon Anderson.  This show will likely always be the crown jewel of my Yes fandom!

Photographs:

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You Gotta Get Rid of That!

A number of weeks back I received one of the worst and most disturbing telephone calls I have ever received over my entire legal career.  The woman who called me did so regarding her daughter, a teenager, who just revealed that she was five months pregnant.

The woman who called me was frantic and, quite honestly, I do not blame her.  A teenager revealing she is pregnant to her mother is clearly, and without question, one of the most stressful, scary, and, quite honestly, dreaded moments in the life of any parent.  Although I cannot relate to it personally, not having gone through it myself, I absolutely understand why this mother would be frantic, exacerbated, fearful, worried, searching for solutions, and so on, in order to deal with the birth of a child to, essentially, another child unable to care for a baby.  Now in her 40s or so, this woman had no reasonable expectation to care for a baby again!  Of course, as one may expect, the teenage girl who is pregnant simply does not understand or appreciate the gravity of the situation in which she finds herself, which makes the woman’s situation all the more frustrating and difficult as she really does not have the cooperation from her daughter that she needs.

I mention the above as a caveat in order to make it clear that I understand why someone in this woman’s position would be in the stressful state she was in when she called.  I am sympathetic to it.  What made the call so disturbing for me was not any of the above.   What made it disturbing was that the woman did not call me to discuss legal solutions as to how she can help her daughter take care of this baby and to try to get the baby’s father involved, at least financially, to do the same.  No, she called me for advice to help her “get rid of that!”  Yes, you read that right.  After I got the story from her she concluded by saying “and you gotta help me get rid of that baby!”  At first, giving her the benefit of the doubt, I was hoping she meant, using crass language, giving up the baby for adoption.  Unfortunately, no, that was not the case.  What she meant, in clear, crass, and completely honest terms, was that she wanted her daughter to kill her baby through abortion.

This telephone call was disturbing to me, on one level, because someone was soliciting assistance in securing an abortion, yet that was not what had the lasting effect on me.  What truly disturbed me about this call was how the woman talked about this baby.  She consistently referred to the baby as “it” and “that” through the conversation; as if it were just a piece of property or object like any other object.  She also talked about the baby as if it were a piece of trash or refuse.  Phrases like “get rid of it” or “she’s [her daughter] stuck with it” or “I’m not gonna keep it” or “I don’t want it” littered the call.  I was especially cut to the core when she kept repeating the refrain that she has to find a way to “get rid of it.”  As a father of two little boys this phrase cut deeper than it would have before I was a parent.  How can someone talk about a little baby – a defenseless and innocent baby – as if s/he were just a piece of trash to be thrown into a garbage bin?  I understand someone’s frantic emotional state but this crosses a line.  It was a disgusting display; a disgrace.

I wish I had a better response for her, ethically and morally speaking, though I felt constrained by my position as an employee of a law firm not to tell her how I really felt but rather stick to legal advice.  I wanted to tell her how sick I felt when she spoke about a child as if it were just something disposable.  I wanted to dissuade her from thinking the way she did.  I said none of those things.  When I hung up I felt like I let that little baby down – potentially complicit in his/her murder – and that I was a coward for not standing up for this baby whom she wanted so badly to kill, and allowing what I felt were the pressures from what is expected of me at “my job” to take priority.  To be perfectly transparent, I went confession about this telephone call and how I handled it.  I am still not sure I did the right thing.

Strangely enough, despite my human frailty, God came through.  Although I am opposed to abortion and current abortion law, God found a way to make it work for me, and this baby, for his/her good.  The caller wanted to file something in court to force her daughter to get an abortion.  Her logic was this: if a parent can compel a child to get medical treatment (say a surgery), how is an abortion any different?  Well, ultimately, the “right to choose” resides with the pregnant person who, in this case, is the teenage girl.  A parent cannot force a pregnant child to abort.  Although a pregnant child needs to get an adult’s involvement when choosing to abort (whether it is a parent or a judge), no one can legally force her to get an abortion against her will.  Thankfully this teenage girl refused to give in to the pressures of her own mother to abort her child.  Also, as it turned out, the girl may have been too far into her pregnancy to legally have an abortion in time anyway.  So, all I could muster was to inform the caller that she cannot force her daughter to get an abortion and, besides, even if she could, she was likely too far along in her pregnancy anyway.  Thankfully, and ironically, the law accomplished what I could not, both personally and professionally.

Finally, what this call revealed to me was that my fears about legalized abortion are not unfounded.  The value, much less the sanctity, of human life has been so debased that someone can call me on the telephone – without embarrassment or sheepishness or any hesitation – to freely and openly ask me to assist in her effort to discard an “it” as if it were rubbish.  While the abortion movement may have stopped tens of millions of births, it has not stopped at least one: the abortion movement has given birth to the diminution of human life to the point now where it is nothing more than a mere commodity – or, indeed, a burden – which someone can keep, “get rid of,” or whatever else in between.  Human life debased to the same level as anything else.

In my mind’s eye, I see that same woman who called me doing some spring cleaning and rummaging through boxes in her attic or basement.  She comes across some item or artifact or heirloom in the box.  A person helping her clean takes it out of the box and pitches it carelessly into a trash can with the other stuff they are clearing out, which causes the woman to shout “Hey! Don’t throw that out!  That’s my grandmothers broach [or whatever]!” – giving greater value to this thing than the human life currently within her daughter.  Viewing human life as just another commodity – which the abortion movement has played an enormous role in developing –  to be traded, used, kept, given away, and ultimately disposed of has vast consequences beyond the scope of this blog post, but I am sure they are not difficult to imagine.  Relative to the call I received, such a view led to a woman trying to force her own daughter to dispose of her unborn child – without thought or conscience or concern – just as one would of any other unwanted commodity.

This telephone call still runs through my head from time-to-time as it disturbed me so much.  I pray that this little baby will be loved – despite the efforts to kill him/her by his/her own grandmother – and will grow up to be a loving person who loves God and learns how God brought a good (his/her life) out from an evil (current abortion law).  I hope God has mercy on the caller and grace upon the teenager who made the right – and difficult – decision.  I pray I can be a bolder and more effective advocate if I ever encounter a situation like this again.

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