Law Religion Culture Review

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

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Year in Review, 2020.

Books Read (in order read)
1. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (2019)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949) [cd unabridged]
3. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (2019)
4. The War of Art: Break Through and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (2012; originally pub. 2002)
5. The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough (2019) [cd unabridged]
6. Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Servino (2019)
7. Loserthink: How Untrained Brains are Ruining America by Scott Adams (2019)
8. Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer (2019)
9. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (2004) [cd unabridged]
10. Persuader by Lee Child (2003) [cd unabridged]
11. The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh (1953)
12. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (2015) [audiobook unabridged]
13. Roadshow: A Concert Tour by Motorcycle by Neil Peart (2006)
14. The Flight: Charles Lindbergh's Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing by Dan Hampton (2017)
15. Night School by Lee Child (2016) [cd unabridged]
16. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (2008) [audiobook unabridged]
17. Letters to the Church by Francis Chan (2018)
18. The Club King by Peter Gatien (2020)
19. Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm (2014)
20. I'm Your Emotional Support Animal by Adam Carolla (2020)
21. Far and Wide: Bring the Horizon to Me! by Neil Peart (2016)
22. Broken Faith by Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr (2020)
23. The Operator by Robert O'Brien (2017)
24. The Devil's Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High-Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers by Vicky Ward (2010)
25. Kushner, Inc. by Vicky Ward (2019)
26. Facebook: The Inside Story by Steven Levy (2020) [audiobook unabridged]
27. The Dog Went Over the Mountain by by Peter Zheutlin (2019)
28. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (1985) [cd unabridged]
29. Relentless Pursuit by Bradley J. Edwards with Brittany Henderson (2020)
30. Writing to Persuade by Trish Hall (2019) [audiobook unabridged]
31. The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga Of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons by Vicky Ward (2014)
32. Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck (1962) [cd unabridged]
33. Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, and the Movie Game by Oliver Stone (2020) [audiobook unabridged]
34. We by Charles A. Lindbergh (1927)
35. The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (2019) [cd unabridged]
36. Church of Cowards by Matt Walsh (2020)
37. How to Keep Your Cool: An Ancient Guide to Anger Management by Seneca (edited and translated by James S. Romm) (2019) [audiobook unabridged]
38. The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry (2004) [cd unabridged]
39. Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover by Ruth Marcus (2019)
40. Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery by Erica C. Barnett (2020)
41. So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams (1984) [cd unabridged]
42. Out of the Silence: After the Crash by Eduardo Strauch with Mireya Soriano (2019, translated by Jennie Erikson)
43. True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump by Jeffrey Toobin (2020) [audiobook unabridged]
44. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (2020)
45. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham (2006)
46. 2000 Miles Together: The Story of the Largest Family to Hike the Appalachian Trail by Ben Crawford with Meghan McCraken (2020)

Losses Sustained

Neil Peart
James T. Capretz (former law partner)
Eddie Van Halen (saw him twice in concert--at LA Coliseum and Forum)
J.I. Packer
Sean Connery
Chuck Yeager

Concert of the Year
Tool (1/10/20 San Diego; 11th Tool Show attended)

Film of the Year
The Way Back
Honorable Mention: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Book of the Year
The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh (1953)
Honorable Mention: Relentless Pursuit by Bradley Edwards with Brittany Henderson (2020)

Trial of the Year

"Have a House"

My client befriended a gentleman in his neighborhood. Over the years, they bonded over their mutual loves of cars and sports. After the gentleman lost his wife, he received a terminal diagnosis as well. He told my client that he wanted to give him his house upon his death, but didn't want to deal with a will or trust. My client had heard of a "deed upon death" that would allow the gentleman to stay in the house for his lifetime, and then have the property transfer to my client at his death. My client suggested that the gentleman look into it. He did. The gentleman decided to have such a deed prepared, reviewed it, and then executed it with a notary. It was then recorded. However, it was not recorded in a timely fashion. As a result, my client was informed by a title company that it would not be able to insure title. Thus, my client would not be able to refinance or sell it. He was told he would need to quiet title to the property. He then came to us. We brought a lawsuit to quiet titled in his name. At the trial, I elicited extensive testimony of the deceden't intent to transfer title to my client. We introduced evidence of their long-standing relationship, but also that there was no "care-giver" relationship that could have potentially disqualified my client from receiving it. At the conclusion of the trial, the court quieted title to the property in favor of my client. At 25 years of age, my client had his first house.

Appeal of the Year

"A Record Without A Record"

Our client sued a tech company for breach of contracts. The tech company cross-complained. Each pleading demanded damages in the millions. My client, as plaintiff, brought an affirmative motion for summary adjudication on its complaint. Prior to the hearing, the tech company dismissed its cross-complaint without prejudice. The trial court granted my client's summary adjudication motion and awarded it damages of approximately $8 million, plus attorneys' fees and other costs. The other side appealed. At the oral argument, appellant's counsel argued first, as is customary. He told the justices that he would organize his remarks around the four main arguments of our respondent’s brief. I made a mental note that he was distracted from his contentions that the trial court somehow made an error below in granting summary adjudication and instead focused on our arguments. Among other things, we argued that the appellant failed to provide an adequate record for the appeal. We also contended that the trial court's written evidentiary rulings on our objections to the evidence were correct. One particularly amusing piece of purported evidence was that the appellant had included a declaration in opposition to the motion that averred he had "recently" visited a website to claim that it contents somehow violated the contracts. We objected this statement lacked foundation as to when he viewed it and whose website it was. One of the justices noted that “recently” was not defined, was not a "term of art", and needed a “temporal component” essential to foundation. She also observed that there was no date on the website print-out submitted to the trial court. Appellant’s told the panel they could check to see it was still up there now. Almost in unison, they said something to the effect of that’s not how we do things on appeal. The opinion ensued unanimously upholding the judgment in its entirety, and then tacked on additional attorneys' fees and costs. With interest, it has grown to eight figures. A personal record.

Athletic Achievement of the Year
Completed 52 Hike Challenge (in actuality, doubled it--over 104)
Plus 365/365 workouts (6th year in a row)
Fulfilled annual trek to Sedona (annual trek to Maui was a Covid-19 casualty)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Year In Review, 2019.

Books Read (in order read)
1. The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture by David Mamet (2011) [cd unabridged]
2. America: The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges (2018)
3. Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich (2009)[cd unabridged]
4. The Tenth Island by Diana Marcum (2018)
5. Looking for Alaska by Peter Jenkins (2001)
6. 3 Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama by David Mamet (1998)
7. Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward(2018) [cd unabridged]
8. Melting Pot or Civil War? by Reihan Salam (2018)
9. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux (2008) [cd unabridged]
10. Hippie by Paulo Coelho (2018) [cd unabridged]
11. Ship of Fools by Tucker Carlson [cd unabridged]
12. Hoaxed: Everything They Told You is a Lie by Mike Cernovich (2108)
13. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis (2005) [cd unabridged]
14. What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson (2017)
15. The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind--and Changed the History of Free Speech in America by Thomas Healy (2013) [cd unabridged]
16. Big Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking (2018)
17. Dopesick by Beth Macy (2018)[cd unabridged]
18. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis (1985)
19. The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (English trans. 2002 by William Scott Wilson)
20. Why Religion? by Elaine Pagels (2018)[cd unabridged]
21. The Seven Year Trap: Back Office Observations of the Business of Law & the Path to Partnership by Charles Gillis (2018)
22. American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer (2018) [cd unabridged]
23. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels (1979)[cd unabridged]
24. The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis (2018)
25. You've Been So Lucky Already: A Memoir by Alethea Black (2018)
26. Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott (2018)[cd unabridged]
27. The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts by Joan Biskupic (2019)
28. Contempt by Ken Starr (2018)
29. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks (1969)[cd unabridged]
30. The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi (2013)
31. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (2003) [cd unabridged]
32. The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau (2010) [cd unabridged]
33. Team of Vipers by Cliff Sims (2018)
34. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (2005) [cd unabridged]
35. The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman (2014)
36. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport (2019)
37. Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (2015) [cd unabridged]
38. Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin (2017)
39. The Reversal (a Lincoln Lawyer novel) by Michael Connelly (2010) [cd unabridged]
40. First: Sandra Day O'Connor by Evan Thomas (2019)
41. Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing by Robert A. Caro (2019)
42. The Brass Verdict (a Lincoln Lawyer novel) by Michael Connelly (2008) [cd unabridged]
43. The Fifth Witness (a Lincoln Lawyer novel) by Michael Connelly (2011) [cd unabridged]
44. Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O'Connor (2013)
45. The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice by Sandra Day O'Connor (2003) [cd unabridged]
46. Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes; A Year Alone in the Patagonia Wilderness by Robert Kull (2008)
47. The Gods of Guilt (a Lincoln Lawyer novel) by Michael Connelly (2013) [cd unabridged]
48. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1994) [cd abridged]
49. Deep Work by Cal Newport (2016)
50. Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir by John Paul Stevens (2011) [cd unabridged]
51. Ten Years A Nomad by Matthew Kepnes (2019)
52. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (2014) [cd unabridged]
53. Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (2019)
54. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss (2017)
55. Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharara (2019) [cd unabridged]
56. White by Bret Easton Ellis (2019)
57. A Republic, If You Can Keep It by Neil Gorsuch with Jane Nitze and David J. Feder (2019)
58. The Innovators by Walter Isaacson (2014) [cd unabridged]
59. "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman (1985) [cd unabridged]
60. Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning by Viktor E Frankl (1997) [cd unabridged]
61. "What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman (1988)
[cd unabridged]
62. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (1984 ed.) [cd unabridged]
63. Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law by James B. Stewart (2019)
64. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (2019)
65. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss (2016)
66. Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime by Sean Carroll (2019)
67. Eisenhower: A Life by Paul Johnson (2014) [cd unabridged]
68. Methods of Persuasion: How to Use Psychology to Influence Human Behavior by Nick Kolenda (2013)
69. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D. T. Max (2012)
70. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace (1989) [cd unabridged]

Losses Sustained
John Bogle
John Radcliffe (younger cousin)
Ric Ocasek

Book of the Year
Tie: Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (2019) and "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman (1985)
Honorable Mention: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport (2019)

Concert of the Year
Tool (10/20/19 Los Angeles)

Film of Year
The Irishman
Honorable Mentions: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Apollo 11

Trial of the Year
"What's in a Title?"

In a year where I went 5-0 in trials, one case particularly stood out for its windfall to my clients. My clients (husband and wife) purchased a four-unit investment property with the wife's sister and her spouse. So, the four of them went on title. The other couple advanced all of the down payment, and my clients' credit rating secured the loan on the property. (The other couple conceded they couldn't have qualified without help.) Thereafter, the other couple suffered a marital dissolution. As a result, wife (my client's sister) bought out her husband's interest in the property (using her own funds), leaving only three on title.

My clients grew weary of not receiving any income from the property, despite reporting all income on their taxes. They wondered what legal rights they had. Since they were on title, I suggested a partition by sale cause of action, which we filed. The other side cross-complained for breach of an oral agreement, alleging essentially that my clients never acquired any ownership interest in the property, but only lent their credit to help buy the property as a favor to their sister.

After a trial involving many witnesses, including the parties, tenants, family members, and even the ex-husband (who ardently advocated his ex-wife's position), the trial court ruled in my client's favor on the complaint and cross-complaint, ruling that they were 66.67 percent owners of the property, and accordingly, entitled to that percentage of the net proceeds of its sale that the court ordered, plus attorneys' fees. Distilled to its essence, title controlled.

As a bonus, opposing counsel after the trial remarked about my cross-examination, "You got my client to say whatever you wanted her to say." I offered no rebuttal.

Appeal of the Year
"Resurrection of a Wrongful Death Case"

A 75-year-old Alzheimer's patient was placed in a locked unit and positioned next to a young man known to be violent. The young man battered the helpless elderly patient, who eventually died. In turn, the decedent's personal representative brought a lawsuit against the hospital, attending physicians, and nurses for: (a) professional negligence, (b) elder abuse, (c) wrongful death, and (d) willful misconduct.

After a few attempts, the trial judge dismissed the lawsuit on a demurrer for "uncertainty" and untimeliness--without leave to amend. Plaintiff's counsel requested that I brief the appeal in this tragic case.

My arguments apparently convinced the court of appeal that the pleading was not "uncertain" and not time-barred, but in fact stated valid claims. The appellate court reversed the trial court's dismissal of the action, remanded the case for a trial, and awarded costs to my client.

Athletic Achievement of the Year

Best (running) mile time in decades
Long segment of PCT in Washington (Stevens Pass)

Plus 365/365 workouts [fifth year-in-row]
Fulfilled annual treks to Maui and Sedona

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year In Review, 2018.

Books Read (in order)
1. A Criminal Defense by William L. Myers, Jr. (2017)
2. A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape by Masaji Ishikawa (2017)
3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami (2008) [cd unabridged]
4. Deliverance by James Dickey (1970)
5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (2000) [cd unabridged]
6. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (2013) [cd unabridged]
7. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam (2000)
8. Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption by Shon Hopwood with Dennis Burke (2012)
9. I'm Fine...and Other Lies by Whitney Cummings (2017)
10. Capital Gains: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Things by Chip Gaines (2017)
11. Hacks by Donna Brazile (2017)
12. Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right by Ken Stern (2017)
13. Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior by Bart D. Ehrman (2016) [cd unabridged]
14. The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein (2013)
15. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer (2011) [cd unabridged]
16. World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer (2017)
17. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (2012)
18. Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One by Thomas Sowell (2004) [cd unabridged]
19. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy Keller (2016)[cd unabridged]
20. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson (2018)
21. How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher (2018)
22. After the New Testament: The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers by Bart D. Ehrman (2005) [cd unabridged]
23. Big Sur by Jack Jack Kerouac (1962) [cd unabridged]
24. Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2018)
25. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006) [cd unabridged]
26. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)
27. Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson (2009) [cd unabridged]
28. A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins (1979)
29. Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury (1985) [cd unabridged]
30. North: finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek with Jenny Jurek (2018)
31. Finished I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (2018)
32. Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday (2018)
33. A Marriage in Dog Years: a Memoir by Nancy Balbirer (2018)
34. The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2 by Peter and Barbara Jenkins (1981)
35. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls (2005) [cd unabridged]
36. Submission by Michael Houellebecq (Lorin Stein, trans., 2015)
37. The Triumph of Christianity by Bart D. Ehrman (2018)
38. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (1987) [cd unabridged]
39. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2014) [cd unabridged]
40. But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds and Jon Winokur (2015) [cd unabridged]
41. Plunder and Deceit: Big Government's Exploitation of Young People and the Future by Mark Levin (2015) [cd unabridged]
42. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)[cd unabridged]
43. First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen (2005)
44. The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld (2014) [cd unabridged]
45. Resistance is Futile! by Ann Coulter (2018)
46. Everyman by Philip Roth (2006) [cd unabridged]
47. Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case that Propelled Him to the Presidency by Dan Abrams and David Fisher (2018)
48. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961) [cd unabridged]
49. Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle (2009)
50. Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite's Half Dome by Bob Madgic (2005)
51. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (2017) [cd unabridged]
52. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle (2007) [cd unabridged]
53. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (2018)
54. Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (2018)
55. Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold with Dave Roberts (2016)
56. Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too by Clay Travis (2018)
57. Educated by Tara Westover (2018) [cd unabridged]
58. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1993) [cd unabridged]
59. The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life With Steve Jobs by Chrisann Brennan (2013)
60. Thomas Paine's Rights of Man by Christopher Hitchens (2007) [cd unabridged]
61. Over the Edge: The True Story of Four American Climbers' Kidnap and Escape in the Mountains of Central Asia by Greg Child (2002)
62. Thanks A Thousand by A.J. Jacobs (2018)

The Golden Decade of Cinema List (in order of year)
1. MASH (1970)
2. Patton (1970)
3. The Landlord (1970)
4. Love Story (1970)
5. Harold and Maude (1971)
6. Duel (1971)
7. The French Connection (1971)
8. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
9. Dirty Harry (1971)
10. The Godfather (1972)
11. Deliverance (1972)
12. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
13. The Mechanic (1972)
14. The Exorcist (1973)
15. The Sting (1973)
16. Serpico (1973)
17. American Graffiti (1973)
18. The Paper Chase (1973)
19. High Plains Drifter (1973)
20. The Godfather, Part II (1974)
21. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
22. Death Wish (1974)
23. The Conversation (1974)
24. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
25. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
26. The Eiger Sanction (1975)
27. Jaws (1975)
28. Rocky (1976)
29. Taxi Driver (1976)
30. All the President's Men (1976)
31. The Gauntlet (1977)
32. Star Wars (1977)
33. Deer Hunter (1978)
34. Coming Home (1978)
35. Midnight Express (1978)
36. ...And Justice for All (1979)
37. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
38. Breaking Away (1979)
39. Being There (1979)
40. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Honorable Mention: Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

Losses Sustained
John W. Young
Stephen Hawking
Milos Forman
Tom Wolfe

Book of the Year
A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape by Masaji Ishikawa (2017)
Honorable Mentions: Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2018) and Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (2018)

Film of the Year
Free Solo

Trial of the Year


My client was the successor trustee of a trust. We obtained an order removing the predecessor trustee, his brother. In addition, the prior trustee and his spouse sought to charge the trust with "salaries" for himself and his wife. After we cross-examined them using logs of caregivers, who were paid separately from the trust, the trial judge found no reason for this duplication of expenses and efforts. The court disallowed six figures of these purported expenses and rejected the other side's attempt to remove my client as successor trustee or to find any breaches of fiduciary duty on my client's part. He was an inspirational figure. He became blind as an adult (while serving in the military), and thereafter obtained a master's degree in mathematics. He demonstrated grace and dignity under pressure.

Athletic Achievement of the Year
Long segment of PCT (near Big Bear Lake, CA)

Plus 365/365 workouts [fourth year-in-row]
Fulfilled annual treks to Maui and Sedona

Friday, December 29, 2017

Year In Review, 2017.

Books Read (in order)
1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. (2007 rev ed.)
2. A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston (2016)
3. The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence by Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein and Robert B. Cialdini (2014)
4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011) [cd unabridged]
5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A #%&@: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (2016)
6. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985) [cd unabridged]
7. The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe (2016)
8. Life Is a Series of Presentations by Tony Jeary with Kim Dower and J.E. Fishman (2003) [cd unabridged]
9. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino (2016)
10. Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing S. Ngor with Roger Warner (1987)
11. Filthy Rich: - The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein by James Patterson and John Connolly with Tim Malloy (2016) [cd unabridged]
12. A Perfect Union of Contrary Things by Sarah Jensen with Maynard James Keenan (2016)
13. The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority by Patrick J. Buchanan (2014)
14. Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett (2008)
15. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (2016) [cd unabridged]
16. Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller (2016)
17. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy by William Strauss and Neil Howe (1997)
18. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2016)[cd unabridged]
19. Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest in Pursuit of Coronado by Douglas Preston (1992)
20. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone (2017) [cd unabridged]
21. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone (2013) [cd unabridged]
22. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (2005)
23. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (2017) [cd unabridged]
24. Dixieland Delight: A Football Season on the Road in the Southeastern Conference by Clay Travis (2007)
25. The New Frugality by Chris Farrell (2009) [cd unabridged]
26. How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell (2017)
27. X by Chuck Klosterman (2017)
28. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, And What The Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (2017)
29. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005) [cd unabridged]
30. The Social Animal by David Brooks (2011)
31. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (2017)
32. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (1968)
33. Running With the Devil by Noel E. Monk with Joe Layden (2017)
34. Van Halen Rising by Greg Renoff (2015)
35. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams (2016)[cd unabridged]
36. Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer And America's Broken System by Jerome F. Buting (2017)
37. Reforming the Federal Judiciary: My Former Court Needs to Overhaul Its Staff Attorney Program and Begin Televising Its Oral Arguments by Richard A. Posner (2017)
38. Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill (2007) [cd unabridged]
39. Making Sense of the Alt-Right by George Hawley (2017)
40. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017) [cd unabridged]
41. What Is the Bible? by Rob Bell (2017)
42. The Chickens&%# Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives by Jesse Eisinger (2017)
43. Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green (2017)
44. Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer (2004) [cd unabridged]
45. Blindfolds Off: Judges on How They Decide by Joel Cohen (2014)
46. Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (2004) [cd unabridged]
47. Jesus: A Biography from a Believer by Paul Johnson (2010)
48. Bannon: Always the Rebel by Keith Koffler (2017)
49. Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter by Scott Adams (2017)
50. American Radical by Tamer Elnoury with Kevin Maurer (2017)

Losses Sustained
John Wetton
Chris Cornell
Chester Bennington
Malcolm Young
R.C. Sproul

Book of the Year
Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing S. Ngor with Roger Warner (1987)
Honorable Mentions: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter by Scott Adams (2017) and
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. (2007 rev ed.)

Concert of the Year

Film of the Year

Trial of the Year

"Family Fued"

My client was the youngest of four brothers. After their mother died, they agreed that he would administer their mother's estate, for which there was no will or trust. As administrator, he submitted a proposed accounting. In response, his two eldest brothers brought a lawsuit against him and his wife, alleging that they committed financial elder abuse on their mother and that my client breached his fiduciary duty. They observed that the accounting did not contain a joint bank account between my client and her mother, the net rental income generated from her rental property for about eight years preceding her death, nor the proceeds from a line of credit deposited into the joint account. The arrangement for the joint account and management of the rental property was approved by all the brothers when he took over management of their mother's rental property (from the second brother who also had a joint account with his mom during his tenure as property manager) as well as her trusted financial advisor. They produced documents and witnesses from about 10 years ago (at the time of the opening of the joint account and approval of the arrangement) allegedly indicating that the mother was severely hallucinating and lacked capacity to take care of herself or to make any decisions, and therefore, they alleged that my client and his spouse visited financial elder abuse on his mother by taking net rental income from a house owned by the mom that was deposited into the joint bank account. All dressed up, the claim was about a million dollars.

Following a lengthy trial in which experts and percipient witnesses testified as to the mother's mental condition at the time the joint account was set up, the trial court found that, while the mother had fluctuations in her cognitive state, Petitioners had not shown that she lacked capacity to make any of the decisions that she made the decision to allow my client to use any funds that were left over after those of the rental house were taken care of and the mother's needs were taken care of. The court found the (nonparty) brother's testimony credible that he had conversations with his mother about the joint account and her intentions that my client could and his family could use the funds as he saw fit after payment of expenses. After my particularly eviscerating cross-examination of their expert doctor, the court did not find their doctor's analysis as to the mother's capacity to comport California Probate Code Section 811's factors. The court found it "completely logical and reasonable" that the mother wanted any surplus funds to go to my client, his wife and their daughter (the decedent's granddaughter) with whom she had a continuing close and substantial relationship.

Furthermore, the court ruled that my clients did not exert undue influence upon the mother. The court stated that what was clear was that the mother did not operate her family relationships like a company, and reasonably took into account each of her son's needs at their time of need. In sum, the court found that my clients did not take unfair advantage of their mother under the law of undue influence or otherwise meet the standard for financial elder abuse. Also, the trial court ruled that there was no breach of fiduciary duty committed by my client because he included all assets of the estate in his accounting, and any others that the other brothers' were complaining about were not assets of the estate.

The case was ruled in favor of my clients on every point, including approval of the accounting. The suing brothers recovered exactly nothing on their claims.

Appeal of the Year

"Beware of the Lawyer"

A lawyer received documents from his client and distributed them to other lawyers in furtherance of a case in which he was attorney of record. Two corporations alleged that these documents were "stolen", contained trade secrets and were obligated by the client's contract with them to be returned.

The corporations sued the lawyer (but not the client). We brought a special motion to strike the lawsuit under California's anti-SLAPP law. (C.C.P. Section 425.16.) The trial court agreed and dismissed the case in its entirety and awarded attorneys' fees. The corporations appealed.

At the oral argument on appeal, one of the justices said that he had “substantial concern” that Appellants “did not even begin to make” the factual showing of the elements of the prima facie case against the lawyer. He observed that the trial judge addressed Appellants’ attempt with a mere 10 lines in its ruling mostly citing to the unverified complaint. The justice asked the corporation's attorney where in Appellants’ submissions was their evidence tied to the elements of the claims? Counsel conceded their "showing was not complete.”

The justices also expressed concern that the case was barred by the litigation privilege, meaning the attorney had the right to use the documents for litigation purposes (even other cases). Another justice stated to Appellants' counsel “many of your claims are deficient.” And moreover, there are “defects that could not be cured.” The corporations' counsel conceded: “If the defects cannot be cured, then we lose.”

While the opinion is still pending, one does not need to be psychic to read the "tea leaves" here. A rough day at the office for the Appellants.

Athletic Achievement of the Year
Two Summits, One Day (Mojeska and Santiago Peaks, together: Saddleback Mountain) [33 miles, approximately 5000' elevation gain]

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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year in Review, 2015.

Books Read (in order read)
1. An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media by Joe Muto (2013)
2. The Lost Painting: The Quest For a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr (2005) [cd unabridged]
3. Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer (2011)
4. Gasping for Airtime by Jay Mohr (2004) [cd unabridged]
5. Hikertrash: Life on the Pacific Crest Trail by Erin Miller (2014)
6. Lying by Sam Harris (2013)
7. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver (1999) [cd unabridged]
8. Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak by Andy Hall (2014)
9. Ethics for the Real World: Creating a Personal Code to Guide Decisions in Work & Life by Ronald A. Howard & Clinton D. Korver (2008)
10. American Sniper by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice (2012)
11. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer (1953) [cd unabridged]
12. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick (2000) [cd unabridged]
13. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014) [cd unabridged]
14. The Case Against the Supreme Court by Erwin Chemerinsky (2014)
15. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
by Hampton Sides (2014) [cd unabridged]
16. Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan (1986)[cd unabridged]
17. The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday (2014)
18. The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage by Rob and Kristen Bell (2014)
19. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Gregory Hays, trans., 2002)
20. The Trial by Franz Kafka (Breon Mitchell, trans.)
21. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant (2010)
22. Speak to Win by Brian Tracy (2008) [cd unabridged]
23. Hell or High Water by Peter Heller (2004) [cd unabridged]
24. Mizzoula by Jon Krakauer (2015)
25. Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals by Ed Brodow (2006) [cd unabridged]
26. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (2014) [cd unabridged]
27. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll (2012)
28. The Game by Neil Strauss (2005)
29. The Dark Art: My Undercover Life In Global Narco-Terrorism by Edward Follis with Douglas Century (2014)
30. Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs by Ben Mezrich (2015) [cd unabridged]
31. When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man by Jerry Weintraub with Rob Cohen (2010) [cd unabridged]
32. Rules of the Game by Neil Strauss (2009)
33. Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss (2009)
34. House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street by William D. Cohan (2009) [cd unabridged]
35. 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff (2014) [cd unabridged]
36. The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities by William D. Cohan (2014)
37. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan (2013)
38. ¡Adios, America! by Ann Coulter (2015)
39. The Mystery Method by Mystery with Chris Odom (2007)
40. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy (2015) [cd unabridged]
41. Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came To Rule The World by William D. Cohan (2011)
42. The Physician by Noah Gordon (1986)
43. The Martian by Andy Weir (2011) [cd unabridged]
44. American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (2011)
45. The Greatest Trade Ever:The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street & Made Financial History by Gregory Zuckerman (2009)
46. The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright (2006)[cd unabridged]
47. Mate by Tucker Max and Geoffrey Miller, PhD with Nils Parker (2015)
48. God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican by Gerald Posner (2015) [cd unabridged]
49. Population Wars: A New Perspective on Competition and Coexistence by Greg Graffin (2015)
50. The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat by Bob Woodward (2005)[cd unabridged]
51. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke (2002)
52. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance (2015)
53. Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow (2015)
54. Daddy, Stop Talking!: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won't Be Getting by Adam Carolla (2015)
55. Witness to Power: The Nixon Years by John Ehrlichman (1982)
56. Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers with Stephen G. Michaud (2000)
57. President Me: The America That's in My Head by Adam Carolla (2014)
58. The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam (2005) [cd unabridged]
59. Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence by Bill James (2011)
60. SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin (2011) [cd unabridged]
61. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams (2013)
62. The Dilbert Principle:A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions by Scott Adams (1997) [cd unabridged]
63. The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships by Neil Strauss (2015)

Athletic Achievement of the Year
Summited Mt. San Gorgonio, 11,502 feet

Losses Sustained
Vincent T. Bugliosi, Jr.
Dale R. Peterson (one of the hiring partners at law firm who hired me for my first lawyer position. A sharp Stanford JD with physics/philosophy undergrad degrees, he was one of a kind. A competitive handball player, he introduced me to the game and we had a standing Saturday duel. He could talk music, cars, comedy and fine dining with equal alacrity. His interests were as eclectic as his intelligence was electric).

Concert of the Year
Lagwagon/NOFX (at It's Not Dead Festival)
Honorable Mention: Social Distortion (at Greek Theater)

Film of the Year
Honorable Mention: Sicario

Book of the Year
Ethics for the Real World: Creating a Personal Code to Guide Decisions in Work & Life by Ronald A. Howard & Clinton D. Korver (2008)
Honorable Mention: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams (2013)

Trial of the Year
I represented a successor trustee who was charged with administering a trust that was amended multiple times. The overall effect of these changes was to disinherit one of the beneficiaries. The beneficiary sued to set aside the amendments on the grounds of "incapacity", "undue influence", and moreover, they were invalid because the trust was "irrevocable" in its entirety. We defended the allegations and also affirmatively brought forward a pleading to have the court correct "scrivener's errors" in the trust (and amendments) regarding its alleged irrevocability. Based on the drafting attorney's testimony and an expert opinion, we argued that only one subtrust was irrevocable and that all the amendments were intended to amend the revocable subtrust and effectively did so. As an additional complication, a deed was recorded that seemed to place a real property into the irrevocable subtrust when it only made sense that it be vested in the revocable subtrust (from which the contestant was disinherited). The trial court agreed in all respects, reforming or correcting the trust (and amendments) and upholding the disinheritance.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review, 2014.

Books Read (in order read)
1. Catching the Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort (2009)
2. You Herd Me! I'll Say It If No One Else Will by Colin Cowherd (2013)
3. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains by Chuck Klosterman (2013)
4. The Five Love Languages: How To Express Heartfelt Commitment To Your Mate by Gary D. Chapman (2006) [cd, unabridged]
5. The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic by Mark R. Levin (2013)
6. The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort (2007)
7. The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess by Turney Duff (2013)
8. Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (2013) [cd, unabridged]
9. Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman (2005)
10. Hotel California by Barney Hoskyns (2006)
11. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2013) [cd, unabridged]
12. Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker (2008)
13. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski (2008)
14. Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson (2007) [cd, unabridged]
15. Never Trust a Liberal Over 3--Especially a Republican by Ann Coulter (2013)
16. The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret to Genuine Success by Hugh Hewitt (2013)
17. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Bart D. Ehrman (2014)
18. Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis (2014)
19. Dying for Triplicate: A True Story of Addiction, Survival & Recovery by Todd A. Zalkins (2011)
20. Godless: The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter (2006) [cd, unabridged]
21. Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush by Carol Selby Price and Robert M. Price (1998)
22. Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich (2005) [cd, unabridged]
23. Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge by Frederic Block (2012)
24. The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game by Leigh Steinberg (2014)
25. Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (2010) [cd, unabridged]
26. Trust Me I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday (2013)
27. Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff (2008)
28. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig (1974) [cd, unabridged]
29. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (2012)
30. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs (2007)[cd, unabridged]
31. The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs(2009)
32. America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert (2012) [cd, unabridged]
33. Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You by Greg Gutfeld (2014)
34. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald (2014)
35. Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates (2014) [cd, unabridged]
36. The Divide: American Injustice In The Age Of The Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi (2014)
37. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs (2012) [cd, unabridged]
38. Keeping It Civil: The Case of the Pre-nup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer by Margaret Klaw (2013)
39. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (1979) [cd, unabridged]
40. Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God by Greg Graffin and Steve Olson (2010)
41. Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner (2008)
42. Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001) [cd, unabridged]
43. The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs (2004)
44. Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?: A Professor and a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity edited by Preston Jones (2006)
45. Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life by Christopher Reeve (2002) [cd, unabridged]
46. The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies by Edward Jay Epstein (2010)
47. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron (1990)
48. Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir by Richard M. Cohen (2004) [cd, unabridged]
49. Sideways: A Novel by Rex Pickett (2004)[cd, unabridged]
50. The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph Over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage by Greg Gutfeld (2012)
51. I Don't Believe in Atheists by Chris Hedges (2008)
52. Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport by Michael Oriard (2007)
53. Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel by David Limbaugh (2014)
54. The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis by Steven J. Harper (2013)
55. Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship by John M. Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman and Joan DeClaire (2006)
56. Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption by William Cope Moyers with Katherine Ketcham (2006)
57. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1961) [cd unabridged]
58. Wide Awake: Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris (2014)
59. Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles in Courage and Self-Delusion by Mark Leibovich (2014)
60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996)

Athletic Achievement of the Year
Summited Mt. San Jacinto, 10,834 feet

Book of Year
The Divide: American Injustice In The Age Of The Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi (2014)
Honorable Mention: Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis (2014)

Movie of the Year
Honorable Mention: Whiplash

Concert of the Year
Honorable Mention: Bad Religion

Losses Sustained
Beth Kuttler (law partner)

Trial of the Year
As fun as a withering cross-examination can be, or as gratifying as a compelling closing argument can feel, sometimes the best trial result is the one short-cutting all of those entertaining machinations. I represented a client who had loaned a considerable amount of money to a corporation. After the corporation failed to pay and a lawsuit ensued, the corporate defendant asserted, through its attorney, a myriad of affirmative defenses claiming the loan was unenforceable. As is my custom in most cases, I served a series of requests for admission that, if admitted, would establish all of the elements of my client's claims and damages, but would also eviscerate all of the purported defenses. The corporation refused to answer the requests. In turn, I obtained an order deeming all the requests admitted. So as the trial approached, I prepared a single motion in limine asking the trial court to rule at the outset of the trial that judgment should be entered in my client's favor. The trial court granted the motion and the trial ended without my having to call a single witness. Thereafter, I brought a motion for attorney's fees which was granted in its entirety. Anti-climatic, but short and sweet.

Appeal of the Year
My client was a high school athlete. He played football, at least that is what he signed up for. However, during practice one day, the coach had the team perform drills whereby it would divide into squads that would crash into each other akin to what occurs during kickoffs. The kicker was that the students were in full pads but were not provided helmets or mouth-guards. Not surprisingly, the drill went awry; my client's jaw was obliterated. He filed suit (through another law firm). The school district brought a motion for summary judgment om the ground of "assumption of the risk". The trial judge granted the motion. We advanced an appeal that essentially argued that the doctrine of "assumption" did not apply because the coach increased the inherent risk of the sport, by conducting a drill that was not inherent in the sport. In other words, while my client might have signed up to play football, he did not sign up to play rugby or whatever amalgam that drill constituted. Thus, the "assumption" doctrine did not apply and the motion for summary judgment cold not stand. The appellate court agreed and reversed unanimously for a trial on the merits.