Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Loophole LaRue, SASS #51438

End of an Era

Recommended Posts

Some of you know that I'm a lawyer who tries civil cases - fires, explosions and product failures are the bulk of my work.  I primarily represent defendants, although a plaintiff sneaks in there every once in a while.

 

I tried my first case in 1977 - that's 43 years.  The work can be frustrating, nasty and exhausting, but overall, I wouldn't trade it for any other field.

 

I received a letter yesterday from the administrators of the primary courts in the Commonwealth,   letting us know that life as we know it is probably over.  There is no predictable date for restarting jury trials; in fact, we may not ever see them again, at least not with live people in the same courtroom.  The courthouses remain closed to the public for most matters.  The clerks are all enthused about using conference calls and video conferencing to resolve certain matters; I consider them to be grossly inadequate.  Can you judge the credibility of a witness during a teleconference, when you cannot see their facial expressions and body language?   Can you establish a connection with 12 jurors who are reduced to little boxes on your laptop screen?  

 

No more Motion Sessions, where lawyers gather and argue disputes to a clerk or judge; now, you submit your written arguments electronically and wait to receive an email deciding your motion - no oral arguments, no thinking on your feet, no give-and-take, no intellectual challenges between lawyers and judges.    No more live depositions - all done on Zoom.  This is hard to explain, but so much of what we used to do involved the intangibles of personal contact.  Spend two or three hours in the quick exchanges of questions and answers, and the good stuff often spills out unintentionally - admissions, contradictions, and outright lies.  Much less likely in these semi-scripted video events, where I can't really see if I am making the witness sweat or not; where I cannot lean across the table with a clear look of disbelief on my face.  We may as well just exchange written statements and go home.

 

I was playing with the possibility of retirement a few months ago; this may accelerate my plans.  It may just be my time.  

 

I heard that the snappers and schoolies are running in Vineyard Sound, and that sounds a lot more attractive at his point in my life.

 

LL

  • Like 8
  • Confused 1
  • Sad 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best wishes for whatever you decide.  It sounds like you've had a long rewarding career.  Congratulations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. LaRue,

 

  It is a real shame that this situation has come about.  I have been on a couple of juries, and understand what you are talking about from the juror's standpoint.

 

  Also, teachers are going to be affected by this, and the students will suffer.  I was a Senior Instructor/Chief instructor for the Army Reserve School based in Lubbock, Texas.  It was very important to me to have that face to face contact with the students, so that I could tell if they were truly understanding what I was trying to teach them.  You could see in their faces when they "got it."  Without that contact I fear that teachers will just be transferring information from their notebooks to the student's notebooks.  

 

  An era has truly ended.

 

Duffield

  • Like 3
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What you just said makes sense to me, I have always felt transactions or conversations are preferred in person rather than over the phone or by texting etc.

kR

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may be time, LL. Good luck in whatever you choose to do. Retirement ain’t to bad.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, best wishes for a happy future.

 

Second, I was on a Federal jury last. One person, only gave a audio testimony. His a$$holeness (I made that up for lack of a better word) came through loud and clear. His behavior was the crux of the case. The defendants were there because they allowed it. It was a harassment case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds to me like you have an opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of that court arrangement.  

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am sorry to hear that Loophole. I hope that whatever you decide to do that you are happy. I wouldn’t look at this as “the end” of a great career, but “the beginning” of a new wonderful chapter of your life. 
 

One company I worked for years ago was laying off lots of people. We all had to attend training on “Managing Change” and what one could do if laid off. The theme was that if you lost your job in all the cuts that this would be your “opportunity for change” and that one should look on it as an opportunity to do something better or different. 
 

This situation is your “opportunity for change”. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

I am sorry to hear that Loophole. I hope that whatever you decide to do that you are happy. I wouldn’t look at this as “the end” of a great career, but “the beginning” of a new wonderful chapter of your life. 
 

One company I worked for years ago was laying off lots of people. We all had to attend training on “Managing Change” and what one could do if laid off. The theme was that if you lost your job in all the cuts that this would be your “opportunity for change” and that one should look on it as an opportunity to do something better or different. 
 

This situation is your “opportunity for change”. 

 

No offense, Pat...but that sounds like something the folks in HR say when they give you a pink slip.  And then tell everyone else that you "decided to pursue other opportunities".

 

I'm not really disappointed about packing it in; I had a long run, and enjoyed most of it.  It is depressing, however, to think that the Court system is being reduced to a video game.

 

LL

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Loophole LaRue, SASS #51438 said:

 

No offense, Pat...but that sounds like something the folks in HR say when they give you a pink slip.  And then tell everyone else that you "decided to pursue other opportunities".

None taken...that is exactly what it is. 

But it does have some merit in how one looks at things. If one looks at change in a really negative way the entire experience becomes really negative. Trying to put a positive outlook on things does help in many ways. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LL,

I wish you all the best whatever you decide to do.

 

P.S.

You shoud drop a bug in somebodies ear about the constitutionality of remote video trials for all the reasons you stated above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I see an awful lot of “things will change forever” predictions. I consider it mostly just Panic and fear mongering.
Life will never be the same! Well it never has been. Things evolve constantly. Lots of things we do and have now, we didn’t 10 years ago. So yeah, Some things will probably change. 
People are creatures of habit and habits die hard. Some things will no doubt change, for the better I hope. But will we stay 6 feet apart forever? Will restaurant servers wear masks and gloves?

Remember the predictions after 9/11? THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!. Well other than it being a pita to fly, not much changed after the initial panic did it?
No.
After this passes, and it will pass, I think things will go back to pretty much normal. I would hope that the government would improve their readiness for the next disaster but I suspect the government will go back to normal as well....which doesn’t bode well for us does it?
It’s a shame that we panicked about this worse than the Pearl Harbor attack. But in ‘41 they didn’t have the irresponsible news media of today.


My opinion only of course. I’m taking a broad view and not addressing Loophole’s specific situation.

Edited by Utah Bob #35998
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your new electronic courtroom may operate as you predict, until one of the rich and powerful elites Is convicted of a crime.  Then after his/her appeal is upheld you will be back in business.

 

Yeah, I’m a cynic.

 

Wanna bet against me?

 

B)

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most interesting post to me, because, I've said before, my career has been very similar in many ways to LL's. 

I tried my first jury case in 1975, having had a few bench trials earlier. Most of my career was defense of personal injury cases as well, products liability, highway design, malpractice, auto accidents, the whole gamut, though I also did a lot of commercial and business trial work.

 

I retired 3 years ago, at age 69, after 44 years of  practice. I tried my last jury case just 3 months before I quit. I keep my license active, but I do not practice at all anymore. I have been bombarded with all of the  official e-mails from the State Bar and the counties about the impacts of the situation on practice, the shutdown of the jury trial system, and all of the collegial aspects so well described by LL that made for a wonderful profession and a fine career. In my case, I'm just glad that I retired a bit before this hit, so I never had to deal with it. I'm confident that if I hadn't yet retired, this would decide me.

 

I'm with Utah Bob on the 'things will never be the same' front. I don't see how we can constitutionally end the in-person jury trial system-- certainly not in criminal cases, and if criminal cases can be tried, so can jury cases. But motion practice, depositions, etc. as LL says, may change, and I wouldn't want to practice under those circumstances, either.

 

We who entered the Bar around the time that LL and I did were in some ways in the golden age of trial practice, or, as I sometimes put it to colleagues, the last of the golden age and the whole of the silver age! I am very grateful for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are many professions that are, and will be, effected in drastic ways.

One of my concerns is military and BOOT CAMP, and classes that train Radioman, Air support, cooks, gunnery folks, etc......

 

Somebody's gotta say that its time to nip all this stuff "in the bud" and get back to reality.

 

I heard a comment on the radio the other day that it appears MORE folks have died or suffered from other causes because they 

couldn't get in a hospital or to see their doctor UNLESS they had C19 symptoms.

"GO HOME AND DIE.  WE AIN'T GOT TIME FOR NOBODY BUT C19 PATIENTS".

 

..........Widder

 

  • Like 2
  • Sad 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I do find it curious how they intend to do those things. It is a given that a trial court has the advantage of observing witnesses and their observations are critical in determining credibility. This is something appellate courts recognize cannot be transmitted by a simple transcript. I've seen numerous witnesses that were completely incredible on the witness stand due to their body language, their eye contact and more. Reading a transcript and taking it at face value, though, could yield a far different result. I can live without being in the same room with other attorneys. But some things demand being face to face.

Since this has started, I have done a number of initial appointments for my GAL work by phone, but I wouldn't dream of making a recommendation for custody without actually meeting a parent, along with seeing the interaction of the parent with the child or children.

 

Whichever choice you make, I wish you luck.

Edited by DocWard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, that's taking it 'way too far.  Never mind that I think all the virus hype was designed to tank a healthy economy in an election year, there are just some things that must be done in person.  A defendant has the right to confront the accuser.

I have for some reason been called to jury duty many times.  I am usually dismissed from tort liability cases when the plaintiff's attorney learns I was in the insurance business.  I even had one ask me a question to which I responded 'if you're asking me if I know the difference between tort liability and 'bleep happens' yes, sir I do.'  He couldn't get me (and a nurse - it was a workers comp issue) out of the box quick enough. 

I was privileged to spend the main part of my career with people who were honest, professional,  and well-intentioned.  When that ended, I worked in 3 agencies in the real world.  I was called upon to suborn perjury, lie to clients, and lie to underwriters to sell insurance.  What I'm trying to say is, when it comes to the point you cannot do your job honestly and in the client's best interest, it's time to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote
3 hours ago, MizPete said:

 OK, that's taking it 'way too far.  Never mind that I think all the virus hype was designed to tank a healthy economy in an election year...

 Would that be an election year in Great Britain (no, they already had their election), Germany, New Zealand, Russia, India, Italy, Spain, France, on and on? Australia,, Ecuador, Brazil.... Our 'election year' is not everything, after all....

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, maybe you understand. Some time ago, "some guy" said he would fundamentally change America. Since then, some people have been trying to do exactly that. Another guy said "never let a crisis go to waste". well, they sure are goin' full out on this one. Of course, we have no way of predicting how long any of this will go on.

 

It only sticks if we allow it.

 

The trial by jury system is a bedrock of our legal system. I understand your points Loophole, because I spent my entire adult life in law enforcement and spent some time in court myself. You are entirely correct. I, am retired. My son is not. He works for the same agency I did. He's still busting bad guys, booking them, writing tickets, taking reports, all of that. It hasn't stopped. Neither have our courts. Some hearings have always been done with the defendant in jail by TV. Others, the vast majority, must be in person. The defendant has that right. I can see some hearings being done telephonically, been party to that. I imagine its a good way these days to get things done now, but defendants, plaintiffs have rights. Period. This virus doesn't trump that. (no pun intended)

 

Denying a defendant or plaintiff due process or a fair trial it likewise against the law. Am I being fairly clear here?

As an officer of the Court its a responsibility to bring that to attention. However, under your circumstances, I don't blame you one bit for wanting to pull the pin.

 

It only sticks if we allow it. This will end soon, its got to. If it doesn't, the people need to make that clear to their elected officials.

 

Here's some interesting facts I've come across;

 

So currently, many States are on the other side of some form of restrictions. The numbers of COVID infection vary as much by state as the baseball scores do during the season. Who the heck can make sense of who will ultimately be the division champ just by looking at the numbers halfway through the season, right? LOL.

 

Wearing a mask. Social distancing. Hand sanitizer. Being aware of cross-contamination. If you're sick, stay the heck home!

All good things to do. Our traditional flu/cold seasons might have been less if we had always done such things.

 

Going to the store. Some now have aisles marked one way to limit people getting too close. Stickers on the ground while waiting in line, same deal. Changing the entrance/exit pattern. All of these are small things most of us are willing to follow because they are really small things and they might actually help.

 

Putting thirty million people out of work isn't a small thing. Restricting people's right to travel, assemble peaceably, go to church, attend town council meetings or other public meetings our government is REQUIRED to make public those are violations of the law.

 

Masks are not effective

COVID isn't a big deal, its just the flu

For each of these points and many more there is a complete 1000% view to the extreme other side and everything between. You can't even trust the media to fairly or accurately report ANYTHING. Thos numbers they parrot at the top of the news? The state's total cases for example. More testing, more numbers. It isn't anything but a number. By itself, means nothing. The total deaths in a state likewise MEAN NOTHING. Especially when we know some are padding those numbers.

 

Two months ago our President, on advice from some pretty smart people advised shutting things down was the only way to "flatten the curve" meaning, prevent our healthcare system from becoming overloaded. The information known at the time was flawed and incomplete but it was what we had. Putting the Country on pause was not a small thing and all things considered, I think the President made the right call.

 

However.

Doing that did not, would not and WILL NOT prevent people from being infected. It won't limit the number, it would only spread those numbers over a longer period of time. That's all it did.

 

We did that, our health care system is running just fine and most people's numbers are going in the right direction. So WHY then, are some states wanting to extend these restrictions longer? There's at least one governor who has publicly stated that if the "citizens" don't toe the line, there's always martial law.

 

The President left it up to the states to decide for themselves the extent of the measures they would take. As was by the law, and common sense. Some states never did any type of restrictions. Others are ticketing people for sitting on the beach. Walking only dem rules sez, no sitting or lying. Or physically removing someone from the subway, kicking and screaming because they weren't wearing a mask. Or arresting someone because they went to a second residence in another city that they owned, in direct violation of "orders" Or visiting with a neighbor and violating "social distance".

 

Its apparent some people are making this political. They're trying to win an election. Its obvious what they are doing and why people appear to be meekly putting up with clear constitutional infringements is beyond me.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/15/2020 at 11:26 AM, J-BAR #18287 said:

Your new electronic courtroom may operate as you predict, until one of the rich and powerful elites Is convicted of a crime.  Then after his/her appeal is upheld you will be back in business.

 

Yeah, I’m a cynic.

 

Wanna bet against me?

 

B)

Pretty safe bet. Am sure there are a few Kennedys in Massachusetts who have the means to provide just what you described.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LL,

  

  If you feel you've had a good run, did your part in the most ethical way possible, made a small difference in some lives, and are financially secure; saddle up and head for the sunset.  Retirement is not too shabby.

 

  Best wishes!

 

  Capt R Hugh Kidnme

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/15/2020 at 8:36 AM, Utah Bob #35998 said:

I see an awful lot of “things will change forever” predictions. I consider it mostly just Panic and fear mongering.

 

If CA and NY ban all lead ammo, that will fit the description of "things will change forever."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.