Law Religion Culture Review

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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year In Review, 2016

Books Read (In Order Read)
1. Raw: My 100% Grade-A, Unfiltered, Inside Look at Sports by Colin Cowherd (2015)
2. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010) [cd unabridged]
3. Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich (2015)
4. The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward (2015)
5. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015) [cd unabridged]
6. Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012) [cd unabridged]
7. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman (2015)[cd unabridged]
8. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (1998)
9. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2005) [cd unabridged]
10. The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane (2012)
11. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007)[cd unabridged]
12. Plunder and Deceit by Mark R. Levin (2015) [cd unabridged]
13. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (2015)
14. Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor;s Journey from Belief to Atheism by Jerry DeWitt with Ethan Brown (2013)
15. Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) by Don Felder with Wendy Holden (2008)
16. The Razor's Edge by by W. Somerset Maugham (1944) [cd unabridged]
17. Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion by Mark Kram, Jr. (2012)
18. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (2011) [cd unabridged]
19. True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel (2005)
20. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis (2010)
21. Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto (2010)
22. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (2016) [cd unabridged]
23. Presence by Amy Cuddy (2015) [cd unabridged]
24. Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court by Amy Bach (2009)
25. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey (1968) [cd unabridged]
26. The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis (1994)
27. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger (1990) [cd unabridged]
28. In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler (2009) [cd unabridged]
29. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2005) [cd unabridged]
30. Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers by Simon Winchester (2015) [cd unabridged]
31. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House by H.R. Haldeman (1994)
32. Blood Defense by Marcia Clark (2016)
33. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (1922) [cd unabridged]
34. Our Lost Constitution by Mike Lee (2015)
35. San Francisco is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires by Dennis Smith (2005) [cd unabridged]
36. The Snowden Files by Luke Harding (2014)
37. Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective by Thomas Sowell (2015) [cd unabridged]
38. A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George by Kelly Carlin (2015) [cd unabridged]
39. The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament by David Limbaugh (2015)
40. America's Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve by Roger Lowenstein (2015) [cd unabridged]
41. The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson (2015)
42. With Liberty and Justice for Some by Glenn Greenwald (2011)
43. Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 by Stephen E. Ambrose (2000) [cd unabridged]
44. Sweet and Low: A Family Story by Rich Cohen (2006)
45. One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (2013) [cd unabridged]
46. How I Helped O.J. Get Away With Murder by Mike Gilbert (2008)
47. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink (2006) [cd unabridged]
48. Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People by Randy E. Barnett (2016)
49. A Way With Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion by Michael D. C. Drout (2006) [cd]
50. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (2016) [cd unabridged]
51. A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade (2014)
52. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (2014) [cd unabridged]
53. But What If We're Wrong by Chuck Klosterman (2015)
54. Sold Out by Michelle Malkin and John Miano (2015)
55. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin (2016) [cd unabridged]
56. Louder Than Words by Joe Navarro with Toni Sciarra Poynter (2010)
57. L.A. Noir by John Buntin (2009) [cd unabridged]
58. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose (1996) [cd unabridged]
59. White Winds by Joe Wilcox (1981)
60. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson (1990) [cd unabridged]
61. Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini (2008)
62. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932) [cd unabridged]
63. Vertical by Rex Pickett (2010)
64. Intellectuals and Race by Thomas Sowell (2013) [cd unabridged]
65. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini (2016)
66. Purpose and Persuasion: The Power of Rhetoric in American Political History by Ken Masugi (2012) [cd unabridged]
67. MAGA Mindset: Making You and America Great Again by Mike Cernovich (2016) (audio)
68. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (2016)
69. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges (2009)
70. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger (2016)
71. Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil, from Wall Street to Dubai by Ben Mezrich (2007) [cd unabridged]
72. The Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday (2016)
73. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (2016) [cd unabridged]
74. Alien Nation by Peter Brimelow (1995)
75. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (2015) [cd unabridged]
76. Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger with Jeffrey Zaslow (2009)
77. Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart (2011)

Athletic Achievement of the Year
Mount Timpanogos, Utah

Book of the Year
Tie: Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012) and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (2016)

Film of the Year
The Revenant (1/16/16)
Honorable Mention: The Big Short

Concert of the Year
Honorable Mention: twenty one pilots

Losses Sustained
Justice Antonin Scalia

Trial of The Year
"Billy's Saga-Or No Good Deed Shall Go Unpunished"

As newlyweds, my clients purchased a starter home in Orange County. It had 1200 square feet, two bedrooms, and a "cozy" kitchen. Shortly after being married, "Billy's" mother-in-law, a widow, went in for emergency abdominal surgery. She wanted to convalesce with her daughter and "Billy" at their house--1.5 miles away from her home. "Billy" agreed, as it was the right thing to do. He understood it would be about one month, then his mother-in-law could move back to her home, and they could check in on her frequently since it was only minutes away.

Four months later, "Mom" was still living with the newlyweds and commandeering "Billy's" TV and space. At this point, "Billy" gently inquired of his wife when "Mom" might be moving home because she had fully recovered months earlier. In response, "Mom" had a proposition. She proposed that a second floor be added quite literally as a "Mother-In-Law quarters." "Billy" balked, telling "Mom" that they didn't have that kind of money handy. "Mom" had a solution. She offered to pay for the remodel, which would double the square footage and (likely) value of the residence. In exchange, she expected to live there and have the couple care for her. "Billy" reluctantly agreed. After her house's title was taken out of her trust, "Mom" refinanced her close-by property and used the proceeds to finance the costly project--nearly $300,000 and bringing the aggregate square footage to about 2400. "Billy" and his wife kicked-in another approximately $50,000. About 11 months later, the upgrade was completed and they were able to move back into the home. One problem: "Mom" didn't want to live in the upstairs unit. So, "Billy" still lost control over his TV and his personal space. Since the upstairs unit was unoccupied, when "Billy's" sister-in-law was foreclosed upon she moved into it. Turned out that "Sis" was a strong candidate for the show "Hoarders" and the beautiful quarters was nearly ruined. She was asked to leave and did--to a tent.

After staying with "Billy" and his wife 13 years pursuant to this arrangement, "Mom" passed away. "Sis" and "Billy's" spouse were 50% beneficiaries of "Mom's" trust. "Sis" demanded a ownership interest in "Billy" and her sister's house, since "Mom" contributed $300,000 towards the remodel and vastly increased its equity; remuneration for the increased equity, or at least repayment for the contribution. So, "Billy's" kindness was repaid with a lawsuit seeking to take away his home. We defended on the grounds that "Billy's" house was not party of the trust; the loan proceeds used to pay for the remodel were not party of the trust and could not be traced to it; and "Mom" didn't intend to amend her trust to equalize the distribution to account for this sizable contribution because it was in contemplation of the the live-in care she received over the remaining decade-plus of her life; and moreover, it didn't comply with the requirements to amend a trust or to overcome the presumption of title (i.e. a writing).

At trial, I examined the trust attorney. He conceded that after the trust was executed, he asked “Mom” if she wanted to change her trust to adjust the percentages or otherwise account for the lifetime time she made to her daughter for the house remodeling and offered suggestions how to do so. He conceded that after he brought to her attention multiple times, she steadfastly declined to amend her trust. We also demonstrated through financial records that no trust assets were used to finance the upgrade.

The fact-finder agreed with our position and defensed the case in its entirety. The (wife) client wept in utter gratitude and relief. “Billy” was zen-like, and was prepared before trial to losing his long-standing home as a result of his act of kindness more than a decade earlier.

Appeal of Year

We pointed out the statute on which Appellant's appeal was predicated didn't apply by its terms; wasn't even mentioned in the trial court; and therefore, Appellant lacked a basis for appellate jurisdiction, the appellate court dismissed our opponent's appeal. We were awarded our costs, which in this case included attornsys' fees. In turn, the case promptly settled in our clients' favor. We secured this win without the need for oral argument.