Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Strange Fire.

Two in a day. None for years before.

Driving on the 10 interstate freeway towards my appearance at the Redlands Superior Court one morning last week, I saw a thick, black cloud billowing up into the sky. As I approached I saw a pickup truck fully engulfed in flames. Tires on fire; the cab spewing flames; and the engine alight. I saw its driver standing about 20 feet away talking on his cell phone, no doubt telling the person on the other side, "I'm having a bad day."

On the way home that same day, I was driving along Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach, and again saw that now familiar black cloud wafting from the right side of the road. The fourth floor of the Balboa Bay Club was on fire. This time, however, fire trucks and police were on the scene, but according to the news stories, it happened only minutes earlier.

Strange. Fire.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion.

As happens periodically, I have been invited to deliver part of a seminar for real estate investors in the Newport Beach area on February 11, 2007. The $160 program will go from 1-5. My portion will comprise the first two hours and will focus on strategies for holding real estate investments.

If you're interested, email me at newportlaw777 (at) aol (dot) com for details. If you can't make it, have no fear. I'm expanding the seminar into my forthcoming book.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mighty Clean!

After a mundane court appearance last week, I bounded onto an elevator. I was not alone.

The other occupant looked at me and then said,

"Looking mighty clean today!"

Inasmuch as I had never met this person before, I wasn't immediately sure whether I had been complimented or insulted.

Since I had brushed my pearly whites and showered that morning, I decided to respond, "Thank you."

I didn't realize one's hygiene was worthy of a stranger's compliment. Learn something new each day.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Succinct, Part II.

A reader reminded me that the attorney in Succinct, Part I exuded logorrhea compared to the utimate brevity of "My Cousin Vinnie's" epic (though argumentative) opening statement:

"Everything he just said is b--s---." And then he sat down.

Monday, January 22, 2007


After an attorney argued for about 5 minutes in a SLAPP [I'll explain this in a later post] case last week, the court asked the other side if he had a response.

He did: "He's wrong about the facts; he's wrong about the law; he's wrong about the pleadings; and he's wrong about the equities."

The judge responded, "Tell us how you really feel."

Like the judge, I didn't think it was particularly effective advocacy, but it was succinct.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bite of the Apple.

Perhaps I enjoyed the court's tentative ruling (see January 9, 2007) about finding a worm in the proverbial apple because I employed a similar metaphor in an appellate brief I recently wrote, which is being argued this afternoon:

"In the Opening Brief's first two proffered errors (Opening Brief ["OB"], pp. 9, 11-18), [the other party] attempts to take yet another 'bite' of the proverbial 'apple.' Unfortunatly, [the party's] tired tirade has already been rejected by a succession of judicial officers over the nearly 10 year history of this lawsuit, including most importantly this Court in the First Appeal. In other words, there is no vestige of the 'apple' remaining, and [the other party] is chewing on seeds and stem."

Close but Far.

The other night I witnessed another bizarre dining scenario.

At another table, I saw a man in his 20s, a woman in her 50s, and another woman in her 70s. I surmised three generations sat down to share a meal and conversation.

Well, they shared a meal, but almost immediately after consuming the food, all three pulled out what appeared to be hand-held video games.

All three simultaneously played out their fantasies on these devices while sharing tidbits like--"He always falls on that jump"; "Ouch, I didn't see him"; and the eloquent, "Uhhhgggg."

Sure glad they got together to share their lives over a repast.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Movie Review: Children of Men (mild spoiler alert).

As I have written here in reviewing Superman Returns (see July 15, 2006), finding Christ-figures in movies can be a trite exercise.

Nevertheless, sometimes they are unmistakeable, even if subtle (the best kind).

Children of Men is a remarkable example of the subtle kind. Set in 2027 Europe, the film delves into a future where no child has been born for over 18 years.

What happens to a society where there is no hope of progeny? This movie offers a dark answer.

Among other things, there is no concern about the environment. Vehicles belch filth into the air. Trash piles up everywhere.

In addition, violence pervades (however, it's mostly implied in the film). Ironically, the lack of new life makes extant life--animal or human--expendable in this vision. While the movie doesn't make the connection, immigrants are mercilessly persecuted in this childless world.

Stepping into this culture of despair, is Theo (greek for God). However, he is a regular guy (a journalist) who, through in indirect connection with the underground "Fish" movement, encounters a pregnant woman, whose unborn child represents hope for humanity. Protecting the woman and even assisting the birth of her daughter, he takes it upon himself to get them to "The Human Project", a place of safety and security.

Powerful, provocative and professional this movie should be seen as soon as practicable.

Children of Men receives an "A-."

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Family.

On a recent trip to Phoenix to see the Knicks play the Suns, I met a most inspiring family.

Traveling with the New York Post's writer covering the Knicks, the great Marc Berman, we had lunch after practice but before the game. Two brothers joined us; I had met one of them on an earlier Knicks "roadie", but the younger I newly met. These gentlemen were patent attorneys, but that only was their "day job."

One previously played professional tennis; the other, the younger, lived in Israel for about six months researching and writing an impressive historical book. Among other things, he interviewed over 60 individuals whose remarkable stories of sacrifice were probably not previously known. He had also published about 20 articles in the Arizona Republic on Israel. Oh, and his wife is a rabbi.

Their real passion, however, was sports. Season ticket holders for the Suns and Cardinals, these two demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of sports that even amazed the professional sports writer. While I can spout statistics with the best, they took the skill to Himalayan heights. For example, one year when the Cardinals were not statistically elimininated from the playoffs by game three or so, the younger ascertained all of the permutations that could have landed the team in the post-season. He then delivered the news to a Cardinals beat writer, who admitted he was unaware of the Cardinals' playoff prospects still having a pulse.

Since their office was close, we went there after lunch. At their office, we met another brother with whom they practiced law. In all, four brothers practiced in the firm their father founded many years earlier. Notably, they also practiced with others who were not brothers and managed to have a seemingly harmonious practice. In any event, this brother, who I think is the oldest, also played tennis professionally in an earlier career.

He is orthodox, and they described how he kept kosher during the tour. Amazingly, he even played on fasting days, which meant he did not consume food or water while competing. Impressive dedication. He also talked about a sports book idea he was working on in his "spare time."

Walking into the younger brother's office, I observed three gold plated plaques by the door, and asked about them. He explained he was also an inventor, and these represented his patents.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Watch Out For The Worm.

Here is actual language in a local judge's tentative ruling posted today in a case not my own:


How descriptive.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Multimillionaire Next Door.

Recently, I met the quintessential multi-"millionaire next door"--borrowing the term from Drs. Danko and Stanley's bestselling title. (I hasten to add that he is not a client, so no attorney-client or other privileges are disclosed here.)

This gentleman, a Christ-follower, emigrated from Germany in the 1970s after playing professional soccer (football) there. Finding little opportunity to do kick the ball professionally here, he became a PE teacher in a public high school. He also invested heavily in real estate.

This man now own 22 rental properties. That fact alone is not the astounding part. What makes him the quintessential, unassuming magnate next door is that he lives in an 800 square foot "efficiency" behind one of his rental properties. He rents far more lavish properties, including beach houses, to others, who cover his expenses and throw off substantial income to him.

He then cuts his own living expenses to the bone. I suspect he gives away (or will give away) fortunes.

He reminds me of Dr. Rick Warren's reverse tithe principle--keep 10 percent and give away 90. Dr. Warren lives in the same house he purchased for about $300,000 in 1992 and gives away millions.

You never really know who lives "next door."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

I thought Professor Douglas Groothuis' 15 refusals for the New Year were cause for pause. I hope to incorporate at least some into my life for the nascent annum.