Tag Archive | "law"

Paying For Twinkies With Your Life

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Paying For Twinkies With Your Life


Jose Luis Gonzalez is 63 years old. His trailer home has been broken into several times.  He is sick and tired of it.  15 year old Jesus Soto, 13 year old Francisco Anguiano and two other teenage boys were prowling his neighborhood one night. They were hungry.  Word must have been out that the Gonzalez trailer was an easy mark for free food. The boys decided to let themselves in and help themselves. They apparently thought  the coast was clear.  Gonzalez was in a nearby building at the time.  He returned home and confronted the boys with a 16-gauge shotgun.  Soto testified at trial that they were all unarmed.  Soto testified that Gonzalez forced them all to their knees.  There was testimony that the boys begged for forgiveness while Gonzalez hit them with the barrel of the shotgun and kicked them repeatedly.  Gonzalez then shot and killed 13 year old Anguiano.  Gonzalez was charged with the murder.

At trial Gonzalez testified that  he thought Anguiano was lunging at him when he fired the shotgun. The medical examiner testified that Anguiano was shot in the back at close range. There was testimony that  two mashed Twinkies and some cookies belonging to Gonzalez were stuffed in the pockets of his Anguianos’s shorts.

It was the opinion of the  Assistant District Attorney that the Texas “Castle Law” did not apply. He stated:

“What really took place here was a case of vigilantism. A 13-year-old boy was killed because a man was enraged.

What is  the Texas Castle Doctrine? Here is an overview:

In 1995, the Texas Legislature created an exception to a 1973 statute, which required a person to retreat in the face of a criminal attack. The exception allowed a person to use force without retreat when an intruder unlawfully entered their home. Is this what happened in this situation? The law also extends a person’s right to stand their ground beyond the home to vehicles and workplaces. The Castle Law allowing the reasonable use of deadly force when an intruder is:

  • Committing certain violent crimes, such as murder or sexual assault, or is attempting to commit such crimes;
  • Unlawfully trying to enter a protected place; or
  • Unlawfully trying to remove a person from a protected place.

The law also provides civil immunity for a person who lawfully uses deadly force in the above circumstances.

It took the jury of eight men and four women three hours Friday to find Jose Luis Gonzalez  not guilty of murdering 13 year old Anguiano. Should Mr. Gonzalez should have been acquitted?  This sounds more like a “gangland” execution than a person afraid for his life.   It is not clear how Aguiano who was on his knees could have “lunged” at Gonzalez and get shot in the back.  Did he rise up and hop backwards at him?   If anyone was afraid for their lives it was the subdued teenagers as they were being kicked and beaten by Gonzalez.

Unfortunately  for Francisco Anguiano the  Texas Castle Doctrine statute does not distinguish between Twinkies,  jewelry or a plasma television.  The statute does not impose any circumstances to define when something transitions from a deadly force situation to the requirement of a non-deadly response.  There is no question that the boys entered his home unlawfully.  Under the statute he had no duty to retreat. He had no duty to ask them  what they were doing there. He had no duty to call the police. He had no duty to ask the to leave.  He had no obligation to anything or anyone but the danger he perceived himself in even if that perception was flawed.   Assistant District Attorney Uriel Druker maintained during his closing arguments that the case was not about homeowners’ right to protect their property, but about when a person is justified in using deadly force to do so.

Druker’s argument seems reasonable but is legislatively flawed.  The legislature passed the Castle Law in part so homeowners would not have to go through that thought process before defending themselves.  If someone enters your home unlawfully  the intent is to do you harm. End of story.  A story however with many unwritten chapters and thousands of possible scenarios in between.  After his acquittal Gonzalez said he was sorry for Anguiano’s death, but “it was a situation in which I feared for my life.”

Did the venue matter?  Laredo is town plagued by cross-border Mexican drug cartel violence.  Fears are high.  Tempers are short. Triggers are quick.  Juries both empathize and sympathize with residents under siege.  It should also be noted that Gonzalez’s attorney Isidro “Chilo” Alaniz, is running unopposed for district attorney.  That  does not bode well for any future hungry kids looking for a free snack.

Motto of Story?  If you live in Texas steal your Twinkies from the local 7-11.  You will live longer.

Here is another example of how far Texas grand juries and juries are willing to go to protect homeowners T In June, a grand jury in Houston cleared a homeowner who shot and killed two burglars outside his neighbor’s house despite the dispatcher’s repeated request that he stay inside his own home.  The video is below.

Man Shoots Thieves Robbing Neighbor’s House; 911 Tapes Released

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Death Of A Salesman

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Death Of A Salesman


The world of professional headhunting is highly competitive.  The competition for highly skilled candidates can be  fierce.  Here is a legal recruiter who put his own spin on the phrase “aggressive recruiting”.  This is a real email sent to me that is a road map on everything not to do when cold calling or emailing potential candidates for a position.   No in-depth analysis is needed as the email speaks for itself.  The attorney’s retort is classic.  The only changes to the email is the redaction of the attorney’s name to protect his/her privacy and “Dicks” email address to save him any further embarrassment.   If it is any consolation to “Dick” the world needs ditch diggers too.

Start at the bottom of the page.

From: Irritated Attorney(real name redacted)
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 5:27 PM
To: redacted@earthlink.net
Subject: RE: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

And, I only have time for serious recruiters.  Perhaps you should invest in something other than an earthlink address.  Maybe a web page is too much to ask?

You know, Dick…  Is it okay if I call you “Dick”?  While we are tossing around suggestions…  You should probably rethink your approach to client development.  I don’t think making demands, insulting practicing attorneys, and not respecting the privacy of potential clients is the right road to travel in the promising world of legal recruiting.  But, hey, what do I know?  I’m just an unserious attorney who doesn’t hop to it when some random guy with a gmail address (sorry, “earthlink”) demands that I create a curriculum vitae on the spot.  Yep.  Not at all serious…

All the worst,

Irritated Attorney

________________________________

From: redacted@earthlink.net [mailto:redacted@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 4:26 PM
To: Irritated Attorney
Subject: Re: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

I only have time for serious attorneys. Perhaps you need to get back to your
billing.

REPLY APPRECIATED
RICHARD K. EASTBURN
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
Legal Recruiting Professionals
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC
redacted@earthlink.net
—– Original Message —–
From: Irritated Attorney
To: “redacted@earthlink.net” <redacted@earthlink.net>
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 2:17 PM
Subject: RE: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

Your email below implies that you have a “new practice opportunity”
available.  I’m willing to listen.  That’s all.  I don’t have an updated CV.
I’m not going to take the time to create one until I hear what you are
offering in the way of a “new practice opportunity.”

Call me tomorrow.  Please stop emailing my work address regarding this or
any related matter.

Thanks,

Irritated Attorney

________________________________

From: redacted@earthlink.net [mailto:redacted@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 4:16 PM
To: Irritated Attorney
Subject: Re: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

Please forward a CV and I will be happy to discuss further.

REPLY APPRECIATED
RICHARD K. EASTBURN
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
Legal Recruiting Professionals
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC
redacted@earthlink.net
—– Original Message —–
From: Irritated Attorney
To: “redacted@earthlink.net” <redacted@earthlink.net>
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:29 PM
Subject: RE: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

Call me tomorrow. (number redacted)
________________________________

From: redacted@earthlink.net [mailto:redacted@earthlink.net]
Sent: Wed 8/20/2008 3:18 PM
To: Irritated Attorney
Subject: DALLAS CANDIDATE SEARCH

If you are in the market for a new practice opportunity, this is an
excellent time for discussion.

REPLY APPRECIATED
RICHARD K. EASTBURN
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
Legal Recruiting Professionals
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC
redacted@earthlink.net

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7 Year Old Worked At Swingers Club

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7 Year Old Worked At Swingers Club


When you think of cities hosting the lowest levels of sexual and human depravity what comes to your mind? New York City? Los Angeles? Maybe New Orleans is your cup of gumbo. How about Mineola Texas? Mineola is a small East Texas town boasting a very non big city population of 5, 600 residents. The Mineola web site boasts a congenial small town warmth for numerous antique shops, bed and breakfasts etc. It is also “The Birding Capital of East Texas”. The web site goes on to state that Mineola is “Where People Make The Difference”. There is no doubt that people have made the difference in putting tiny Mineola on the national radar of depravity along side above mentioned cities. Over the last year, Mineola has been the focus of one of the most despicable scenarios of depraved sexual theater known to mankind. It is not a question of subjective sexual morality and values. What has allegedly taken place in Mineola would probably shock the most hard core pedophile. Children in Mineola as young as 7 were allegedly working and performing sex acts for paying customers in a local swingers club. The club ironically had previously operated as a day car center.

Here are the facts as reported by The Dallas Morning News:

1. The sex-abuse allegations were first reported to police and Texas Child Protective Services in 2005.

2. The biological mother of three of the children was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of sexual performance by a child. She was sentenced to life in prison. The foster parents are not defendants. They have been foster parents for 36 years. They have have adopted 27 children, including the three siblings in swing club sex ring sex-ring case.

3. It is alleged that children were threatened with beatings, hanging and starvation if they didn’t perform sex acts and lewd dances as strangers watched. The children were allegedly given Vicodin to relax them. These drugs were called “silly pills”. The children were allegedly taken to the homes of several of the defendants where they were instructed in sex acts and dancing. These lessons were called “kindergarten”. When the children were deemed “ready” they were made to perform for an audience at the sex club.

While not as shocking as the allegations it is surprising that this reality sex show has not garnered more national attention. In NYC this is just another group of perverts who may be your next door neighbors.  You would not know however because you do not speak with your neighbors. In Mineola Texas these ARE your next door neighbors.

The cases against the defendants are proceeding under a gag order. There is undoubtedly a script in the works for a Lifetime or USA network movie of the week. Dallas, Austin and Los Angeles producers and scriptwriters are perched like vultures waiting for the gag order to be lifted so they can swoop down on the the involved parties for the option rights to their story. This would certainly be more juicy than the Texas Cheerleader Scandal.

The Mineola Web sites also mentions the “Peforming Arts”. I do not think anyone had this in mind. Welcome to Mineola!

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Great Courtroom Movies(With Video)

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Great Courtroom Movies(With Video)


Being an attorney, I have an attraction to movies that revolve around lawyers or courtrooms. It is often entertaining to watch how the realities of litigation and law are blurred, butchered and disregarded altogether in the name of entertainment or dramatic license.

Here is the list of my great courtroom movies. For a movie to be on my list, it has to be something I have seen within the last 5 years. If the movie predates that and I have not seen it in the last five years, then it was not entertaining enough for me to see it again. An example of a movie that would come under this exclusion is Twelve Angry Men. This movie is on every respectable top ten list out there and unquestionably a great movie. It is not one that has that pull for me to see over and over. I saw it in high school almost 30 years ago and have not seen it since. The same would be true of To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind. These are all great classic courtroom movies on every top ten list. I have not seen any of them in the last five years so I am leaving them off. There are also movies that revolve around lawyers but I do not view as courtroom movies such as The Firm, The Client The Pelican Brief and Michael Clayton. If I say a movie is technically good from a courtroom perspective I am judging the overall portrayal to the layman and not passing judgment on every little evidentiary/trial fau paux.

Movies like Liar Liar, My Cousin Vinny and Legally Blonde are hilarious. I did not include comedies. The reason is that no matter how funny the movie may be, there is really no character or individuality. They all basically revolving around making courtroom dialogue humorous

  • The Verdict: This is my favorite courtroom movie of all time. I can watch it over and over. Paul Newman in my opinion gives his greatest acting performance. What lawyer out there cannot identify with getting that one big case that will cure what ails the human condition? A case that that not only redeems society but redeems the down and out alcoholic attorney played by Newman. He battles a crappy case, biased judge, reluctant witnesses and a crooked law firm defending the Catholic Church. Not great technically from a courtroom perspective but you get so sucked into Paul Newman’s character that you completely disregard any tactics that would be questionable in real life. David vs. Goliath courtroom movies are a dime a dozen and only work if they bring you into the story so you become David. Watch this movie and you will be David for two hours.
  • The Rainmaker. Based on the book of the same title by John Grisham. Same David and Goliath script but with a much more technically correct courtroom feel. This is one of the few Grisham books in my opinion that the book translates well to the big screen. This time the young inexperienced attorney representing the poor family unable to speak for themselves up against the big bad insurance company. How do you not get sucked into Matt Damon’s character? The young attorney with no money trying his first case again up again the big time corrupt defense firm. (Are there any courtroom movies out there that put defense firms in a positive light?) The only people in this country who do not want to put a whop ass on a big bad insurance company are the people who work for the insurance company. One of the better courtroom movies from a technical perspective, great storyline. By the time the movie is over you want to go hire a lawyer to sue an insurance company, any insurance company…….
  • A Few Good Men. You have to get past the fact that the whole movie hinges on the star witness, a Marine Corps General played by Jack Nicholson suddenly collapsing like a used air bag under cross examination and giving the defense its’ case. The odds of this happening in real life? Play the Powerball Lottery this week. You have a better shot. Jack had to give it up under cross to make the movie work and boy does his performance make it work! Just get passed that. It’s a great movie. One of those movies worth watching just to watch every scene with Jack Nicholson. Oh yea, a good performance by Tom Cruise as the under-dog un-appreciated and initially apathetic military defense attorney. Watch it for Jack though.
  • A Civil Action This is based on the book A Civil Action. It is a true story. The underdog attorney, real life attorney Jan Schlictman up against the big bad corporate giants who are spilling toxic substances into the drinking water of Woburn, Massachusetts causing cancer clusters in the children….. I don’t want to give away the entire story but you have an attorney coming to understand himself at the cost of everything he once was, morally, financially, emotionally. I warn you that this is a SLOW movie. It is very deliberate as is the very long book. It needs to be to work. It works in that it is deliberate but never boring. You will come away from this movie with a better understanding of the frustrations that many attorneys face in trying to do the right thing and getting so sucked into to trying to do the right thing that you lose sight of what the right thing really is. John Travolta gives a great performance as real life attorney Jan Schlittman. He brings you right into his character to such a degree that you hang on each work and move quickly through any slow parts of the movie. Interesting paradox here. Robert Duvall is portrayed as an honest defense attorney for the corporate giant when in reality the defense firm involved destroyed and hid evidence.
  • Amistad: This movie is not for everyone. It is slow. It is hard to follow. It involves a mutiny on a slave ship traveling towards the coast of the United States. The story revolves around the trial of the slaves who led the revolt. I can sum up my review this way: Did watch the HBO mini-series John Adams? Then watch this movie….. Why? John Quincy Adams, the son of Second President John Adams Jr. was the lawyer who defended the slaves who had revolted and killed their captors Good performances by Matthew McConaughey and Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams. This slave controversy in this case became a prelude to The Civil War.
  • Philadelphia. This is the first big star motion picture that I am aware of that addressed AIDS discrimination. Who better to do than Tom Hanks Great performance by Tom as a big city Philadelphia lawyer with AIDS. His law firm discovers his condition and cans him. Denzel Washington is great as the stereotypical ambulance chaser who finds a conscience and a cause….. I don’t think this is a very good movie from a technical standpoint My reason is that all the stuff about Hank’s characters sexual orientation and sexual habits would never come into evidence as not being relevant. They put it in the movie for dramatic purposes and it works for that purpose It can however give the laymen the impression that if you make such a claim your sex life will be put out there for all to see and that’s just not true.
  • Miracle on Thirty Fourth Street (The 1947 Original) the existence of Santa Clause on trial? How could this not be on my list?
  • Judgment at Nuremberg: The first film to address the trial of the Nazi’s accused of war crimes after World War II otherwise known as The Nuremberg Trials. I am frankly surprised this has not been re-done with a current day all star cast. I think it would do well.
  • 9. Primal Fear This movie has absolutely absurd courtroom dialogue but the story line and performances by Edward Norton and Richard Gere are so good that you really don’t care.

    10. Music Box This is one of the few movies dealing with the issues of aging former Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who committed war crimes living in the United States. Jessica Lange and Armin Mueller-Stah give great performances.

    The movie is based on the true story of John Demjanjuk. While the premise of a daughter representing her father on trial for his life is a stretch, it works well here. Jessica’s emotional opening statement is also unrealistic and inadmissible. The movie is incredibly moving on all levels.  You are torn between her father as a loving grandfather and a brutal murderer guilty of terrible war crimes. In an interesting twist of life imitating art, the father of Joe Eszterhas who write the screenplay, was accused of writing anti-Semitic propaganda before and during World War II. Like the character in Music Box, his father denied being the person who wrote these materials. Mr. Ezterhas denies knowing anything about his father’s past at the time her wrote the screenplay. There is a great article about this that can be read here.

    Class Action This movie is based on the Ford Pinto Rear End End Explosion cases. Gene Hackman is great as the both idealistic and cynical plaintiff’s attorney going after the huge car maker. Once again a defense firm is portrayed as as unethical. They hide then destroy key evidence in the case. The conduct of the character played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, while portrayed as noble in the movie would have probably resulted in her disbarment in real life. She knows a partner in her firm has destroyed evidence. She tells the other side(who happens to be her father) about it. She also gives them a corroborating witness not previously known about. Noble maybe but career ending absolutely.

    Presumed Innocent This is one of the great courtroom movies of the last 20 years both in style and drama. Great performances by both Harrison Ford and Brian Dennehy. A show stealing supporting performance is turned in by late actor Raul Julia. The movie also does fairly well on a courtroom technical basis. One dramatic license taken is the hammer which needed to be taken. The statement that the police wouldn’t look for it because if they dont find it , that would be brought up in court is just silly. They don’t look for something because they might not find it? Search warrants are executed to find evidence, not to leave it.

    And Justice For All. Al Pacino’s great courtroom flick. (I refuse to put The Devil’s Advocate on there) The movie is technically ludicrous and it is supposed to be! That is the whole point. The point is that the legal system is ludicrous and often forces attorneys to choice between morality and victory. While the drama is exaggerated the message is right on. The below video says it all.

    That’s my list. Are there other good courtroom movies? Of course. These were the ones that I can watch over and over. Some other courtroom movies I found entertaining but didn’t make my watch over and over list are,

    Rules of Engagement

    Hart’s War.

    Red Corner.

    Please feel free to comment and make your case for your favorite courtroom movies and why they are great. Please don’t say its great, because it’s on some list or because everyone else says it is great. Give us your own opinion. Example: I have no desire to see Twelve Angry Men again. It is a great movie on jury and group dynamics. It is also fairly boring. When was the last time you saw it?

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