Sacramento Court Monitors Users and Charges for Online Records Searches


12
Apr
2014

Following in the footsteps of southern California courts like Orange and Los Angeles County, the Sacramento Superior Court has started to implement a profit center by charging for name searches online. The online court records have always been free to search, but no more. Now, fees will run up to $2500 just to do name searches per year.

Additionally, like Orange County, Sacramento will require that you register with the court before doing any searches online. In other words, the government will be tracking who you are and what you are searching for. The government monitoring system is already in place even before fees begin to be collected.

Now, if you are a landlord wanting to know if your potential tenant has sued the last four apartments they lived at, you need to pay the court to find out. Want to know if someone has a criminal record? Pay the court.

This new profit center is on top of massive fee increases for the courts the past few years. For example, here is a prior post about is costing $27,625 to file some lawsuits.

Also, if you want a court reporter to transcribe what is said during a hearing, so you can preserve grounds for a possible appeal, you need to pay a fee to the court in advance of the hearing. No pay = no record of what was said. For over 150 years this had been a service provided by the court for hearings without cost, but no more.

Is it Worth Passing Laws with No Penalties?


31
Oct
2013

California lawmakers in their infinite and majestic wisdom and have a new requirement to commercial websites collecting personal information from consumers: to disclose whether ‘Do Not Track’ suggestions in web browser settings are followed by the website.

Details about the law here:

http://internetmarketinglawcenter.com/blog/californias-do-not-track-law/

One of the problems with California’s law is there are no penalties for noncompliance. Except for large companies who may be publicly shamed into compliance there is not much reason to pay attention to California’s new attempt to regulate the world wide Internet.

Then there is the law itself, which does not prohibit tracking, does not prohibit collecting private information, does not prohibit the selling of private information, and does not prohibit a site from ignoring a web browser’s settings.

All it does is require a new disclosure buried within a legal privacy policy that no one reads anyway.

That is a great use of legislative time. A law with no penalty, accomplishing nothing of substance except adding words to a legal document no one reads. Oh well, more work for attorneys.

Law Firm Sued for Fake Yelp Reviews


24
Sep
2013

As reported on Twitter the McMillan Law Group in San Diego has been sued by Yelp for posting fake reviews about itself. There is plenty of intrigue to this story.

According to Julian McMillan, the owner of the McMillan Law Group, the firm successfully sued Yelp in small claims court last year. McMillan says he is the only business to sue Yelp and win. The veracity of his statement has not been confirmed, but obviously there is some bad blood between the McMillan bankruptcy firm and Yelp. A small claims case means the McMillan Law Group sued Yelp directly and that it was not acting as legal counsel suing on behalf of a client. Attorney McMillan claims the Yelp lawsuit is a revenge claim.

Possibly. How many lawsuits has Yelp filed for false reviews? Even more limiting, how many lawsuits has Yelp filed for false reviews for which it seeks damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and more?

Yelp submits numerous exhibits in support of its lawsuit in which it claims McMillan attorneys and a network of attorney friends were creating accounts on Yelp and immediately posting glowing reviews about the McMillan firm. There is no indication in the lawsuit of whether Yelp attempted to match the names of reviewers with persons filing for bankruptcy. This should be a simple task and it is a little surprising it was not done to confirm whether or not fake reviews were being submitted.

If we assume Yelp is correct, that fake reviews were submitted to its site, what are its remedies? It could ban the McMillan firm from accessing its site. Again, interestingly, there is no indication it has done so.

It could seek an injunction prohibiting further false reviews, and that is one legitimate claim in the Yelp lawsuit.

Beyond that the validity of claims starts to get murky and sympathy for Yelp starts to diminish. Yelp claims breach of contract, but is unable to specify an amount of damages – probably because there are none.

Then Yelp starts claiming interference with its business contracts and seeking punitive damages. Again, proving damages is likely to be difficult for Yelp and punitive damages most unlikely. Yelp, of course, is unable to allege a single contract that was interfered with and claims like that are headed for a quick dismissal.

Now the “over charging” starts to appear as if this is a revenge lawsuit. On top of that not only did Yelp sue the McMillan law firm, but it also singled out Julian McMillan to sue individually. A closer read of the lawsuit also indicates the “fake” reviews by the McMillan attorneys supposedly occurred more than three years ago. Three years! The alleged favorable reviews from friends were in 2012, but going after three year old posts makes one wonder, what happened to now invoke a lawsuit instead of simply deleting the reviews? My suspicion is McMillan’s small claims lawsuit against Yelp.

No word on whether Yelp filed a claim with the California State Bar, that given the tenor of claims that seems likely. There will probably be counter accusations to the Bar based on frivolous legal claims in the lawsuit. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Bottom line: a public pissing match where one would have expected better from both a law firm and a major online site.

Does Asiana Airlines Have a Reputation to Damage?


14
Jul
2013

Asiana airlines was recently in the news because its plane crashed in San Francisco. Thus far, three people have died and scores where injured.

From news reports it appears the most likely cause of the crash, or least one contributing factor, was pilot error. The plane was flying too slow, and too low, and hit a sea barrier leading to the runway. Apparently, right before impact the pilots tried to gun the engine to gain more speed and abort the landing, but it was too late.

Other statements in the media include this was the end of a long, 10 plus hour flight, the pilot only had about 40 hours of experience with this type of plane and it was his first landing with the type of Boeing aircraft at SFO, and this was the first or one of the first flights by the training pilot.

It is a tragic and deadly event. There is nothing more damaging to the reputation of airline then crashing a plane and killing people.

Then, a local San Francisco station, perhaps in a rush to obtain a scoop, published the names of the four pilots. The names released, though, were the subject of a hilarious prank. Here is what the station released:

Sum Ting Wong

Sum Ting Wong
Wi Tu Lo
Ho Lee Fuk
Bang Ding Ow

Not only are the names funny, but the order of the names is a narrative for the crash.

Now, Asiana airlines claims it may seek legal action against the station for harming its reputation.

Seriously.

Maybe it is a poor public relations attempt to divert attention from the fact the airline may be held responsible for killing people.

It certainly does not have a reputation to be damaged. Certainly not be a joke.

Lighted up Asiana. There are worse things that can happen to an airline besides a TV station falling for a prank. Like destroying an airline, killing people, and then getting up in arms over a joke.

Attorney Hourly Pay Plunges to $10 Per Hour


25
May
2013

It has been reported for some time there is a lawyer glut in California. There are way too many lawyers, or at least a misallocation of lawyers as attorneys try to service businesses in the metro areas while basic rural needs go wanting.

In part, blame falls on the incredible debt lawyers incur in law school. The state has taken the position lawyers will make a lot of money so they can afford to pay astronomical fees for an education. The higher tuition fees for graduate level work are used to support the college system and undergraduates. At least one public law school, the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco comes to mind, I believe receives no state funding at all.

It is a public school privately funded by students.

The result has been a steady dropping of California law school reputations compared to national peers.

It also means attorneys need to find high paying jobs to pay off their high debt, which means legal services for the poor or in rural areas is dropping. Frankly, most middle class people cannot afford a lawyer. Legal disputes are often for the rich and corporations.

There have also been media reports of the glut of graduates unable to get a job, suing law schools for fraudulently representing how many graduates get jobs in the legal field.

This recent ad was posted by a Sacramento law firm, willing to pay someone with a law degree and 2 years legal experience, a whopping $10 per hour, but for no more than 30 hours per week in an obvious ploy to avoid paying health benefits:

“Litigation firm looking to hire a recent law graduate or first/second year associate interested in immediate case responsibility and litigation experience.

Initial position is part-time, 20-30 hours, with potential for full-time/associate position. Specifics to be discussed during interview.

Responsibilities to include:
Case Management;
Document Preparation and Review; and,
Legal Research and Writing;

For consideration, submit a detailed, yet concise resume (1 page) highlighting relevant experience. Include a cover letter or short writing sample.

Interviews to commence week of June 3rd.

Location: Roseville / Rocklin
Compensation: $10 / hour”

I would say this is a firm to avoid.

Can you imagine going through 4 years of college (or more), plus 3 years of law school, racking up debt of over a hundred thousand dollars, to compete against those who already have legal experience for a job paying $10 per hour with no benefits.

Let’s see … $10 per hour times 30 hours per week is $300 per week max, or $15,000 per year. If you only get 20 hours per week it is $10,000 per year.

Yikes.

The minimum wage in California is 8 dollars per hour. Assume you are a high school graduate working fast food or retail which is $8 per hour and a full-schedule of 40 hours. That is $320 per week.

Yes, high school graduates with no experience make more than attorneys.

Patrick Soluri – An Attorney to Avoid


14
Mar
2013

Patrick Soluri, an obscure attorney at a law firm called Soluri Meserve, wrote a letter today to the City of Sacramento claiming a public referendum will be sought if Sacramento tries to save the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle by building an arena.

The goal would not be to actually have a referendum, but to stall Sacramento’s efforts to help build an arena and have a plan in place for the NBA Board of Governors to consider when deciding whether the Sacramento Kings will stay in Sacramento or become the new Seattle SuperSonics.

Evidently, Patrick Soluri is not a sports fan.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, Patrick Soluri wrote this letter without identifying any client. In a subsequent conversation with the Bee, Patrick Soluri was unable to identify any client he actually represents. The Bee article is here.

Aside from the fact Patrick Soluri is attempting to interfere with private agreements to build an arena and purchase the Sacramento Kings, he is attempting to interfere with the government process.

Mr. Soluri’s letter apparently claimed government partnership in a new arena would be an illegal “gift of public funds.” That is absurd. I have litigated a gift of public funds issue before, in another context, and it is simply a misplaced argument made by those grasping at straws without strong legal foundation. And, apparently, attorneys unable to identify if they have a client.

It could be that Patrick Soluri’s letter is a publicity stunt intended to attract someone who would serve as his client.

According to the California State Bar website, the attorney listing for Patrick Soluri (provided by Mr. Soluri) states his expertise is environmental law. That would not be government law. That is not sports law either. He letter apparently claims an arena would not be an economic catalyst. Apparently, Mr. Soluri is also an economist, a CPA, and somehow knows better than those who are actually working on the details of an arena plan yet to be publicly released.

This may come as a surprise to Patrick Soluri,but cities and public agencies have provided money, including what might be called subsidies, to sports arenas across the country for decades. Including in California.

Since Patrick Soluri is a little weak on clients and legal research, let us help him out. The “referendum” claim was made by someone trying to stop the San Francisco 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara and it was rejected by the courts.

But Mr. Solari knows this. Last year, sometime in 2012, The Santa Clara Weekly reported attorney Patrick Solari requested copies of documents from the case from the court

Cities, like Sacramento, commonly provide money for various events, including the arts (maybe Mr. Soluri is not a fan of the Crocker Art Museum either) and helping the homeless.

This is where it gets interesting. A “gift of public funds” often means money is being used to benefit a particular person instead of the public at large. This means if Sacramento gives a helping hand to a homeless person then maybe Patrick Solari will send a letter demanding the practice stop. An entertainment complex, on the other hand, which the city would profit from just like it is profiting now from the arena the Kings currently play in due to a loan from the City of Sacramento (!).

Moreover, the public at large benefits from being able to watch professional sports, world class NBA players who visit every year, and from better and larger entertainers putting on shows in Sacramento.

Or, maybe Patrick Soluri prefers to travel a 100 miles to San Francisco to watch big name entertainers who skip Sacramento because their productions will not fit in the currently outdated arena.

Evidently, Mr. Soluri is not a fan of Sacramento.

Maybe he thinks it is a “gift of public funds” if the City of Sacramento buys paper from the local office supply store. After all, that is an expenditure of public funds made payable to a private company. That is not even an investment with a financial return, like a sports arena.

Interestingly, the Soluri Meserve “law firm” website is down.

Although it is true even mass murderers are entitled to an attorney, those attorneys are often hired for that role and paid by the state. Private attorneys, like Patrick Soluri, select and choose which clients they want to represent and be associated with. It is a voluntary and intentional decision on their part – not a role to play as part of their regular employment like a public defender.

Why makes you wonder, why would you have anything to do with Patrick Soluri if this is what he chooses to do with his law degree and who he chooses to represent?

The Bee Articles says Mr. Soluri’s letter was also presented with attorney Jeff Anderson. It turns out Mr. Soluri and Mr. Anderson have a history. They were both attorneys representing Occupy Sacramento protestors against the City of Sacramento. Big surprise. Nothing like a bunch of protestors harming local businesses and the public at large (remember businesses closing and trashing of the park?), and here come Patrick Soluri and Jeff Anderson to their defense. There is a pattern here.

These publicity seeking nits seem to be looking for ways to go against the City of Sacramento. Now that the “Occupy Movement” has been relegated to the trash bin of soon to be forgotten recent history, they have a new cause to put themselves back in the media spotlight.

Unfortunately for a lawyer like Patrick Soluri, reporting like this exists.

So while lawyers like Soluri and Anderson are doing the best to try and kick Sacramento’s only major professional sports franchise out of town, I was also reviewing court records, came across the Kings Right of First Refusal issue, and while explaining the legal ramifications asked the Bee to confirm with the bankruptcy trustee that the issue exists. Too bad Soluri isn’t spending his time and money to try and save the Kings.

So let us recap:

Attorney Patrick Soluri is …

Unwilling (or unable) to name a client, assuming he has one (which is doubtful from reading the Bee article), his legal reasoning is weak and factual understandings misguided.

This is not someone you want to have as your attorney.

If you ever come across Patrick Soluri, suggest that he might want to move to Seattle.

Sacramento Grocery Stores With Gift Cards


28
Jan
2013

Here is a review of gift card options at Sacramento grocery stores. The ability to buy a gift card online, email it to someone, and use your PayPal account is nonexistent. Grocery stores, frankly, have a lot of catching up to do to other industries. Since they are walk-in local stores, they probably do not feel the need to make additional money by offering convenient Internet options.

SMART STORES – EGIFT CARDS AVAILABLE TO USE IN STORES THAT CAN BE PURCHASED ONLINE WITH PAYPAL

CVS – Yes to gift cards, yes to egift cards, and yes to PayPal. CVS is a wonderful breeze to use and get a quick gift card. Too bad its not a real grocery store.

Gluten Free Specialty – Yes to gift cards, yes to egift cards, and yes to PayPal.

ALMOST AS GOOD – MOBILE GIFT CARDS THAT CAN BE PURCHASED WITH PAYPAL

Target – Gift cards are available and PayPal is an online purchase option. egift cards can only be used online at target.com and not in stores. (Dumb) However, mobile gift cards sent to a phone can be used in stores. (go figure)

WOLVES MASQUERADING IN SHEEPS CLOTHING

Walmart – Gift cards are available and egift cards can be purchased online. There is a PayPal purchase option, tried it a couple times and it does not work. Had to be refunded.

Kmart – Gift cards are available, including egift cards and PayPal is an option. Except it mostly doesn’t work. Out of 3 orders only 1 went through. Customer service was non-responsive and eventually had to file payment disputes. Will someone please pull the bankruptcy plug on Sears / Kmart (again) and put these awful businesses out of their misery.

EGIFT CARDS AVAILABLE WITH A CREDIT CARD

Whole Foods – Gift cards and egift cards are available. There is no PayPal purchase option, only credit cards.

YOU CAN GET GIFT CARDS BY MAIL OR IN THE STORE WITH A CREDIT CARD

Raleys – Gift cards are available but can only purchased in the store. No online egift cards. No PayPal purchase option.

Winco – Gift cards can only be purchased in store.

Albertsons – Gift cards available, but not egift cards. No PayPal option.

7-11 – Gift cards can only be purchased in store.

CircleK – Gift cards are available but egift cards are not. There is no PayPal purchase option.

WHATEVER

Safeway – No gift cards. The gift cards option on their website is for buying third party gift cards, like itunes, at Safeway.

Grocery Outlet – No gift cards.

Save Mart – No gift cards.

Koreana Plaza – No gift cards. Can’t even call their website a website. How embarrassing.

Food Maxx – No gift cards. Another completely horrible, waste of space website.

Nugget Market – Website won’t load, so who knows.

Smart & Final – No gift cards.

Trader Joes – No gift cards.

Tower Market – No gift cards.

Was Peyton Manning Injured During the Ravens Playoff Game?


13
Jan
2013

After thinking about the divisional playoff game between Denver and Baltimore, and the sequence of plays and events leading up to Baltimore’s double overtime win, I have concluded Peyton Manning was injured.

In the third quarter Manning was sacked twice and fumbled on each. When he wasn’t fumbling Manning was only 3 for 7 with a long toss of only twelve yards.

In the fourth quarter, except for the touchdown pass that went for 17 yards, Manning was not throwing the ball farther than then yards. In overtime, it was again all super short passes of then yards or less, with no attempt to stretch the field or get a big play.

For all intents, the Broncos second half of the game was spent throwing passes of a length I could throw.

By comparison to last year, against Pittsburgh, Tim Tebow completed passes of 80, 58, 50, 40, 31, 17, 15, and 13 yards. Tebow also ran for 50 yards and was not sacked. Then, Denver was using that throwback read option stuff San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington are now running. It would have come in real handy, especially after Knowshon Moreno left with an injury and the running game was hindered.

With the season on the line, with one of the supposed greatest quarterbacks of all time, someone being paid $95,000,000.00, and with an opportunity to ice the win, the Broncos’ coaches would not let Peyton throw a pass. This gave Baltimore time to tie the game, and they did. Then, with 31 seconds left, timeouts, home field, a tired Ravens defense, and the thin air where the Broncos once tried a 73 yard field goal, a coin flip was deemed a better option than letting Peyton Manning air it out to try and win.

Obviously, Peyton was injured. No one could possibly be stupid enough to call those plays with a healthy QB.

Worst Song Ever


8
Jan
2013

The worst song ever made is Rock Lobster by the B-52s. I happen to like the B-52s, at least the songs where the girls have the lead. Although Rock Lobster is somewhat famous, I’m not sure why. It is truly horrible and ranks in my book as the worst song ever made.

China Avoids US Control Freak Regulators


14
Aug
2012

There is a recent story about Chinese companies withdrawing from United States stock exchanges. They still want investors and the exposure from being listed on the NY Stock Exchange or other major index.

What they do not want is US control and expense.

“[A] deadlock between Beijing and Washington over whether U.S. regulators can oversee their China-based auditors…. Withdrawing also eliminates the cost of complying with American financial reporting rules.”

In other words, first the US wants to “oversee” Chinese auditors.

Second, the strangling cost of US regulations outweighs the benefits of a US stock listing.

While some could claim this helps root out fraud and gives value and trust to US stock listings, the fact is the US is a control freak on the world stage, wanting to impose its oversight, laws, and regulations on everyone – whether it be copyright, taxes, or stock listings.

Someday the Chinese stock exchange may be the most important in the world, because everyone is sick and tired of unending, intrusive, and expensive Big Brother “oversight.”