Better ignore the map on my directions page for now.

It’s been brought to my attention that the embedded Google map on my directions page at my web site shows my office as being on the north side of I-394, when in fact it is on the south side. I swear when I set that up a few months back it was working correctly.

So now I have to find time to fix that. It may yet be a few days. I do my web sites with the 2007 edition of Microsoft Expression Web. So far when I have tired to embed a Mapquest map to replace the Google one, the program goes berserk. I’ll fix that soon, even if it means buying a newer version of the program.

Meanwhile I notice that some one’s been posting spam comments after some of my entries here. I’m going to delete every one of them that I’m aware of right now. Another despicable practice. Doesn’t anybody have any self-respect anymore?

Two days behind in my email; please be patient with me.

Well, that trip to Tucson was wonderful. Whatever tan I may have acquired is just about gone already, sad to say. And if the economy is getting any better, there’s sure no sign of it in my office. I am crazy busy. It took me until the end of the day on Thursday to return my calls up to what I had received by Tuesday; and right now – end of the day on Friday – I am still going through emails from Wednesday.

I am returning my calls and I am responding to my emails, but please be patient with me. I am doing my best to actually respond to everyone – eventually.

Loons at Westwood Hills

I spent time at the office this past Saturday, but not after first taking a long walk at the Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park. It was quite beautiful, with the maples already turning a bright red.

There’s a part of the trail that goes over a board walk which extends right through part of the lake. On that section of the trail I noticed out in the middle of the lake some birds that I must say look like loons to me. I have seen them there in prior years, always in the spring or the fall. They seem to make Westwood Lake one of their stops as they migrate either north in the spring or south in the fall. I guess they are already on their way south.

For me there seems to be something uplifting and reassuring about seeing them.

Back to Wayzata Blvd.

I’m still unpacking, but at least I’m in my new office and the phones are hooked up.

I want to give special thanks to the following, who I will not refer to by name to protect the innocent:

  • The crew who helped me move. They consisted of my my wife, two daughters, two sons in law, and a step-son-in-law.
  • The technicians from Popp Telecom, who spent almost all day Friday trying to unscramble a spaghetti bowl of wires in this building so that my DSL, phone jacks and Ethernet jacks would work.
  • The delivery crew from Office Liquidators in Plymouth, who disposed of some of my old furniture from my old location and delivered new or mostly new furniture to my new place. As close as I can figure, my old desk and chairs had been in use for 27 years – guess I got my use out of them.
  • The staff from Senior Community Services, which is my new landlord. They have been very helpful and gracious. Before moving in I had asked them for new paint, new carpeting, a sign in the parking lot and some remodeling. They agreed to everything I asked for.
  • They guys from Joe’s Carpeting – who after putting in the carpet have agreed to make some throw rugs out of the remnants for me.
  • The neighborhood mail carrier – who is making an effort to see that my mail still gets to me.

This is not the first time I have had an office with a Wayzata Blvd. address. Between 1978 and 1980 I was at 6950 Wayzata Blvd. in Golden Valley. That building is no longer there. Long after I left, it was torn down to make room for I-394. It was next door to the Perkins which is still near the intersection of Highway 12 and Louisiana Ave. I had really forgotten about that old office, until I noticed that there was something familiar about having “Wayzata Blvd.” on my business card. Deja vu all over again.

My Dentist, My Accountant and Me.

This week I have gone to see both my dentist and my accountant. I like both of these guys, but going to see them tends to be a painful experience. I need both of these guys, but I wish I didn’t.

I suspect that the way I feel about seeing my dentist and my accountant may provide some insight into how people feel when they need to come see me for legal advice or representation. I am fairly certain that very few of my clients are glad about being my client – in fact none are glad about it. While I am certainly glad to see them, seeing me or having anything to do with me must certainly be difficult. If my clients had a choice, I’m sure they’d rather be somewhere else.

I mentioned these thoughts to one of my clients, who stated as follows : “I’m glad to have the company, but I’d rather have a different topic.” Credit to him for putting it profoundly and succinctly.

I’ll share one more fact. Between the dentist and the accountant, I’d rather go see the dentist.

I’ll be in the office Monday morning – no jury duty so far.

Tomorrow, Monday December 29, 2008, is supposed to be the first day of my jury duty with Hennepin County. I just checked with the phone line, and they will not be needing me – at least not tomorrow morning. So for those of you who have had an appointment with me in the morning, I’ll be planning on being there.

The next time I have to check to see if they want me will be 12:15 pm tomorrow afternoon. I am supposed to call in and see if they need me for Monday afternoon. This annoying process will continue for the next two weeks or so. This has meant that I have had to be careful to not be scheduling any court appearances for any of my own cases with my own clients over the next two weeks. Over the past three months or so, I have been making an effort to schedule hearings on all of my cases before Christmas, so that I would have an open schedule now. This made for a dramatically busy December. With that rush over, it seems a bit quiet now; except that I am on call to run downtown and report as a juror to hear a trial.

I’ll be reporting more as this unfolds.

The Case for Santa Claus

Twas the day before Christmas, and my phone has finally quit the constant ringing. Yesterday was another story. Even that close to the holiday, there were lots of interruptions. To all who may be reading this, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah. I am going to make an effort for at least the next 48 hours to enjoy these holidays. It’s not that easy after all the sad stories I have been hearing. It is nonetheless my intent to do so.

I think that I still have somewhere within me a little bit of the wonder that was there when I was a small child surrounded by all the holiday hoopla and regalia, expecting a visit from Santa Claus. It’s not that I still believe in Santa Claus; but except for the scene in Miracle on 34th Street, he’s never been accorded his right to a trial by jury. Even in that movie if I recall correctly, the judge dismissed the charges without letting the jury make a decision. It seems to me that Santa Claus should be accorded the presumption of existence until proven to not exist beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t really believe, but I have to admit that he has not ever been proven to not exist beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s a tough standard, and it has not been met. In fact, any student of logic will tell you that it is impossible to prove a negative. Thus it is a safe bet that Santa’s nonexistence can never and will never be proven – at least not with evidence that’s admissible in court.

I just checked the NORAD web site, where there is a special page for tracking Santa. In fact at the moment I am writing this NORAD says they have Santa on radar over Dhaka, Bangladesh. Looks real to me, or at least I can’t prove it’s not.

What Constitutes "Physical Control" over Vehicle; New MN Decision Shifts Definition

The Minnesota Court of Appeals seems to have moved in the direction of common sense in its January 29th decision in the case of Snyder v. Commissioner of Public Safety. Please understand that in order to be charged with DWI and have your license taken away for that, you don’t have to have been driving. You don’t have to have been anywhere near a road. You only have to have been in “physical control” of a motor vehicle “in the State of Minnesota.”

At one time the “in the State” clause went on to say that you had to be on a roadway or public right of way, but that was deleted years ago. So now you can be in your own driveway, in a field, out on a frozen lake, or stuck in a ditch – it seems to make no difference. But the question of the “where” isn’t what I meant to be blogging about today. I mean here to focus on the “in physical control” part. Previous decisions said that each and every one of the following circumstances counted as being in physical control:

  • Being able to initiate any movement of the vehicle and being in close proximity to the controls.
  • Being drunk and found in a parked vehicle where the car might be started again “without too much difficulty.”
  • Standing at the rear of a car with a flat tire while the motor was running and the key was in the ignition.
  • Driver completely passed out, slumped over the wheel, by side of the road with the keys in the ignition.

So now we have this new case out of Wright County. It started out with a wedding reception where a fight broke out and someone called the police. When the police arrived they found people in the parking lot walking toward a car. One guy took out his keys, unlocked the door on the driver’s side, opened the door and put his foot inside the car. Then he noticed the fact that he was being approached by a police officer, turned toward the officer, started walking toward the officer and tossed the keys to his wife.

Based on the law as it stood prior to last week, if this guy had called me I would have told him he was out of luck. He had his keys in his hand and his foot in the car. If standing behind the car while it’s running is enough, this must be too. The Wright County judge ruled that yes he was in physical control. To my surprise, and probably the surprise of everybody who has been watching this, the Court of Appeals ruled that he was not in physical control.

The Court of Appeals opinion says that to be in physical control you need more than just the fact that this person could start the car “without too much difficulty.” In addition the Court says that they will require that the person “has or is about to take some action that makes the motor vehicle a source of danger to themselves, to tohers, or to property.” Factors that the court considered were:

  • Keys were not in the ignition.
  • Person did not get in the driver’s seat.
  • Did not start engine.
  • Did not touch the steering wheel or the gear shift.

While the Court of Appeals is not admitting that they have made some new law here, it seems fairly clear to me that they have. I’m sitting here thinking about a call I received a few months ago from a gentleman who told me that he received a DWI for standing by the side of the road while a tow truck operator was pulling his car out of the ditch. I told him that yes I thought they could legally do that. If I received a call like that this morning, my answer would be quite different.

The Wisdom of Staying Home during a Blizzard

Well, I’m kind of a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” kind of guy. It’s hard for me to admit limitations. But I just finished a round of phone calls to my children and my Mother-in-Law (age 87, but acts like 57) cancelling tonight’s planned holiday family event.

We’ve had a tradition that some time during the holidays we all get together and head to downtown Minneapolis to go through the display formerly known as the Dayton’s display, now the Macy’s display. Upstairs in the old Dayton’s department store building, since time immemorial going back to at least the 1960s, there has been a wonderful, entertaining and sometimes inspiring display. This year the theme apparently is the Nutcracker.

Earlier in the day during the first round of phone conversations the consensus seemed to be: screw the weather, let’s go anyway. Since then the snow has gotten worse. Then my son reported that his car was covered with snow with ice underneath the snow. When he tried to clear it, he broke off a windshield wiper. After that I found out that one of my daughters is at her boyfriend’s place – which is in Eagan, further away from my place here in Minnetonka than I had figured.

So on with public TV’s version of the weather channel – which at my place is Channel 13. Quite a graphic depiction of the weather radar showed the weather pattern doing a circular thing where there was no sign of it passing by. Looks more like it intends to stick around quite a while.

The storm should be over by Christmas Day. At that time we’ll discuss maybe trying to go to Macy’s another day before the display ends; apparently it runs until New years‘ Eve. I’m disappointed, however, over not being the conquering hero who figured out how to do the event in the face of the nasty adverse conditions. In my business life I have often been that hero, pulling miracle rabbits out of my hat or out of various other places. But upon having given up on the idea of going out in this storm, I am feeling relief.

There’s a whole body of literature on the subject of how if one feels relief after making a decision, that’s a good sign that it was the right decision.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all. If you have taken the time to read all this, let me suggest that you turn off the computer now and get face to face with either a family member or a friend. If you can’t get face to face, at least try making use of that quaint and ancient device – the telephone.