Posted by G.A. Napier on March 31, 2007
Lying to the Federal Government is a felony under 18 USC Sec. 1001. This is the crime for which what Martha Stewart was actually convicted. It is a very broad law which covers lying to the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branches. For a purely hypothetical and far fetched example, if a high ranking Presidential appointee in the Department of Justice knowingly and willfully:
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
to a congressional committee, then that person would be buying a ticket to the hoosegow. Anyone connected to such statements or omissions might be well advised to plead their 5th Amendment rights. If Martha had done so, she may have never tasted jailhouse cafeteria food.
Of course, this is all hypothetical since we all know that no top ranking government officials would lie. You see, this law does not require the person to be under oath when they make the statement or fail to say something. The only elements are: 1) a statement is made or information is omitted that is 2) false or fraudulent and 3) material (basically meaning it matters – lying about shoe size on a HUD statement is not material but it would be if it is a murder investigation where shoe prints are left behind) where 4) the person acted knowingly and willfully 5) within the jurisdiction of the US Government. So, wrangling over whether persons give statements under oath or not seems a bit ridiculous.
Now, for a more practical primer on this particular law since most of us will never get a chance to testify to a congressional committee, this law is why you need to fill out any form that in any way makes its way to the government accurately. This law covers everything from tax returns to HUD statements when buying a home.
Posted in Life & Law, Politics | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Napier on March 29, 2007
Reading the stories about Michaela in the ol’ H-L have been especially disconcerting. You see, I knew Michaela. At least briefly. She lived in Lexington when my family moved about four houses down from her. Even though she exhibited some significant behavioral challenges, my own daughter of the same age tried to befriend her.
Michaela was living with her mother and maternal grandparents then. She always appeared well-nourished and cleanly dressed. Her mom would not allow Michaela to come to our house to play until she met my wife and I face to face. This impressed me as being responsible at the time.
Things must have gone down hill when the mom moved out and the grandparents sold the house (I am not sure which event triggered the other). Michaela moved to a different school district and we did not see her again until her picture was in the H-L. We did not recognize her at first, but once we realized she was the same girl that needed a friend so badly, we all felt a deeper sense of shock and sadness.
Everyone is quick to point fingers in such circumstances. Usually the finger pointing is at the Cabinet. The Cabinet in turn points the finger at a single worker or supervisor who often is demoted or loses their job. This serves the wonderful political need for a scapegoat, but it does not solve the problems. The real truth is that we all share the responsibility.
It may be true that child deaths have increased recently. I would have to really look at the statistics, but I suspect that there are cycles of increase and decline that could be tied to a number of variables, such as poverty levels. If you recall, I wrote a couple of posts recently about the rise of the ultra poor that you can see here and here.. I am not claiming to be a statistician, but I discern a connection between the increase in child fatalities and these economic phenomena.
I hear from inside the Cabinet that things are worse than ever in terms of morale and the ability for workers to do their jobs. This also plays a role and may also be tied to economics on some level. I know that the Cabinet stays underfunded and understaffed. The recently passed Boni Bill provides a modicum of increased funding for more staff but it remains to be seen how far that will stretch. It is only a band-aid trying to dress a gaping wound.
We are all responsible because we decide, by voting and contacting our elected officials (or not), how much of a priority child protection is to us. How much are we willing to pay out of our pockets to prevent how many deaths. Politicians will swear they are going to see the end of child fatailities with increased oversight or a new committee or two. The reality is, we will alway have some child deaths. But we can minimize them, but not with political posturing.
We will not accomplish this goal by a knee-jerk increase in removing children from their homes. Unnecessary removals cause tremendous harm to children as well. Also, on rare occasions a child is killed or seriously injured in a foster home. No, we need proper funding for the Cabinet so that there are enough quality, highly trained workers in the field to thoroughly investigate and assist families in crisis. We need comprehensive and expanded economic support programs for impoverished families rather than continually tightening the purse strings. And, we need increased funding for treatment programs addressing violence and chemical dependency. If we invest our dollars in this three prong approach, there will be fewer child fatalities. And with that, I announce my candidacy for gub’ner of Cantuckee.
My daughter – she’s the one we should look to in this. She is the one who befriended Michaela when no one else would. Her kindness and generosity are the examples we need to follow.
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Posted by G.A. Napier on March 28, 2007
Please go see the movie Amazing Grace. It is truly an inspiring movie and it reveals how the devious mind of a lawyer thought up the legislative catalyst that finally brought down the slave trade. Glad we are good for something despite what all the jokes say!
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Posted by G.A. Napier on March 28, 2007
A potential client called my office the other day. This person was expecting their spouse to serve divorce papers in the next few days and wanted to know what to expect. I talked to this person for a little over 20 minutes about the petition, being served, answering the petition and generally what to expect in a divorce. Towards the end of the conversation they made a comment that was very gratifying to me and made me aware of something that I just do routinely.
This person had worked at a big law firm in some capacity and thanked me for talking for so long without having the clock running. At Biglaw, the conversation would have been billed out for 0.4 hours. Actually, the conversation would not have happened because this person would have only talked to a secretary who would have insisted that she come in for an appointment. Of course, once a person walks down the marbled hallways to the mahogany desk of the Biglaw attorney, and once they had told their tale, they would be unlikely to continue searching for an attorney. Rather, they would reach for the check book.
Another person came and talked to me for an hour a few days prior and, even though I declined to take the case, they started to pull out a check book and asked me what they owed me. I also declined the check, but it highlighted to me what the common expectation is regarding attorneys and money.
Now, Biglaw attorney would say that I am committing business suicide by handing out knowledge and experience so freely. This person, and many others I have provided free consults to, are likely to proceed pro se (represent themselves) or soak up the information I give and end up with another attorney down the line. I can live with that.
Instead, I think it is fundamental marketing and time well invested. Why do supermarkets continue to have people standing at the ends of aisles with free food? First, people get hungry walking about the grocery store looking at food. Second, if their product is good, a few people may buy it whereas they never would have thought twice about it otherwise. I am the guy standing at the end of the aisle and the people I talk to are hungry for legal information. I am confident enough in my product to give samples out for free and without hiding a hook to pull them back. Many people will be grateful for the morsel and continue their shopping, but some will swing back around for more.
I do not actually do it for marketing though. And please, keep this a secret between you and I. I do it because I like to help people, because not everything needs the assistance of counsel, and because I believe the more general information about the law is available to the lay person, the more they will appreciate and turn to attorney’s when they really need the help. Marketing is just my excuse for doing something I believe in doing anyway.
I am not an advocate for socialized law, though it is an intriguing idea. I would prefer to make a healthy living for my family. However, I do not think being stingy with the intellect and education God allowed me to attain is the right approach. Rather, I believe generosity of my time and knowledge will create generous returns. If I never hear from this person again, I believe they will carry a bit of trust for me on to another person in need of some counsel with care.
Posted in Life & Law, Solo & Small Firm, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Napier on March 19, 2007
Personally, I remain skeptical of electing judges. Prior to entering the legal profession, I saw judges names on the ballet and I had no idea who they were or why one would be better than the other. Many times I simply did not vote for either. I suspect many voters have the same experience. Actually, most judicial races in Fayette County and accross the state are unopposed races.
I would prefer to see Kentucky’s judges appointed in a manner similar to Federal judges but with term limits. This reduces the possibility of large financial donors from having inappropriate influence over that judges later decisions. I am in the minority with this view but here is an editorial by former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Jim Keller that offers a great step in the right direction entitled “A better way to choose Ky. judges”.
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Posted by G.A. Napier on March 19, 2007
In reading the recent articles about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, such as this one, I see a familiar theme. It does not shock me and instead of feeling outrage, I feel a slow burn. The A.G. denies having direct knowledge of the firings of several USDOJ prosecutors. The administration states the firings were due to poor performance, but their evaluations exhibited good to great work. The administration denies there were political motives driving the firings.
Why does this obvious dishonesty from our highest government officials not enrage us? Have we just become complacent about the lies from the government? I suspect we, the voters, are more culpable than that. I am sure that if you are a hard core Republican then you wish to justify this latest round of lies. I am equally sure that if you are a hard core Democrat then you are rejoicing in Republicans being under the Gun. Actually, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have much in common – as do their respective parties.
Bill got caught with his pants down by lying about fellatio with an intern and inhaling while George W. fibbed about weapons of mass destruction and who is really responsible for Plame’s fame. The truth is, we don’t like the truth. Furthermore, we do not want to admit that we want to be lied to. We prefer to hear the lies and pretend we are smarter than everyone else because we can see through the lies. Perhaps we all see through the lies because of a tacit understanding that as long as the lies are plausible, then we will accept them.
This is why I will never be President. I explained previously my view on honesty and the practice of law. I just do not have the stomach for the professional level of lying that we expect of Presidents. I imagine that if a President really told us: “Yes I had sex with this intern, and let me tell you which other ones too.”, or “Sure I inhaled and man, that was some good @#$%”, or “We are invading Iraq because we have a better chance of getting a foothold in the middle east and its oil there because they do not have weapons of mass destruction yet while Iran would kick our butt”, or “We fired those prosecutors because they were not towing the party line” then we would freak out. Our own plausible deniability would be stripped away. After all, the last President to try honesty did not fair so well – remember Jimmy Carter?
So let’s be honest folks. We want our President’s to lie to us. We want to believe things are better than they are in reality. We want to be told that the big oil conglomerates care about us and do not have undue influence over the government. What does awareness of how things truly are bring us other than pain and worry? Let us leave the professional politicians to their business and trust them to tell us as little as possible. Please, continue grazing – who needs justice – after all, the truth hurts!
Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »
Posted by G.A. Napier on March 13, 2007
Here are two interesting posts regarding lawyering and billable hours. The first by The Greatest American Lawyer and the second by LexingtonLawyers. Personally, I would prefer money to fall down from heaven like manna so that I could just proceed with the lawyering part, but my partner insists it does not work that way.
Posted in Life & Law | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Napier on March 9, 2007
I’ve become so cynical. My first thougth when reading today’s Herald-Leader article about the Senate stripping the “Boni Bill” of its provision to hire more workers was, “Of course they did.”
The Cabinet is understaffed. It has been for decades. Anyone who has been a front line social services worker knows this. Reviews and panels in the past have confirmed this.
It is practically an immutable fact of nature that one huge source of all the ills of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is that there are too few workers. Invstigations suffer because of this. Services to return children home suffer because of this. Preventive services suffer because of this. Workers suffer because of this. Most importantly, children suffer because of this.
It is true that creating new worker positions is not a panacea to cure all the Cabinets ills. There is a punitive and excessively demanding management culture that seems to have a life of its own in the Cabinet. This creates unnecessary stress, insider fighting, and back biting that causes more stress for workers than the clients they serve cause. But, the creation of additional worker positions, if enough are created, will even impact that culture and insure better retention of trained staff.
When people are given an impossible task, with too frew resources, little support and low pay, such a negative culture is likely to arise. Then, when those same people are expected to continually do more with less, to the point where it feels as though they are to do everything with nothing, then that culture flourishes and becomes a permanent fixture.
Instead of spining up (getting a spine) and approving the hire of new workers, the Senate decided visitation facilities and a “Blue Ribbon Panel” would suffice. They can spare millions in tax incentives for Ford and other companies, but cannot fund even new positions for children.
Spine up Senate: Protect our children – fund the positions!
Posted in Family Law, Politics | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Napier on March 9, 2007
Father, I come to you to lift up to You my clients and their families that You might bless them.
I specifically lift up to You ________________ for _______________________.
I ask for Your mercy upon them for any mistakes they have made that brought them to the point where they need legal counsel.
Ultimately, I pray that truth and justice will prevail in their lives; that Your will be done.
To that end, I offer myself up to You as an inadequate counselor on my own, that You might make me an effective advocate for my clients.
I pray that You will touch my head and my heart that I might have wisdom and discernment.
Touch my tongue and my hands that I might speak and write that which is true and just so that anyone who hears or reads those words will be convicted of that contained within them that honors You.
I ask Your blessing upon my partners and myself that we might expand our territory and prosper so that we can better serve Your kingdom and provide for our family in Christ.
In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Posted in Life & Law, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »
Posted by G.A. Napier on March 8, 2007
This very brief story from today’s Herald-Leader caught my eye.
New welfare rules make it harder for states to move people from public assistance to self-sufficiency, state officials told Congress yesterday. Stricter work requirements limit opportunities for education programs or vocational training, leaving many welfare recipients stuck in low-paying jobs, they said. Also, the requirements are difficult to meet for people with disabilities or substance-abuse problems. “I urge you to take steps to return greater flexibility to the states,” said Robin Arnold-Williams, Washington state’s secretary of social and health services.
This is just another in a string of stories about the increasing disparity between the haves and have-nots. Administrative rule changes, such as those mentioned in the article, are like indirect legislation. This governance tool makes the federal government work by dealing with details that would hopelessly bog down Congress. However, it also circumvents the accountability to the public of our representative form of government. Substantial welfare “reform” can occur in relative obscurity through rule-making.
In this circumstance, the federal rule-making appears to be hamstringing states ability to deal with welfare to work issues in flexible and creative ways.
Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »