Archive for April, 2009

Legless in Gaza?….

Legless in Gaza? No, but in the wake of my Smokedo: Smoke yourself fit with Charon antics, I am now going to be a wine reviewer for LawandMore. I used to do restaurant reviews for them, but as I far prefer drinking to eating – and I am miles away from good restaurants-  it makes sense to review wines.  There is another advantage – the wines come to me by courier!

I have spoken to two wine  people this morning – both very enthusiastic blokes – and warned them that my reviews tend to be less technical, but more surreal, than the real experts.  While I studied wine in my late twenties,  I gave up;  preferring instead to drink the goddam stuff than worry what colour the soil was or where the sun was pointing when grape turned into nectar of the gods. It is unlikely also, I told them, that I would be writing about fruits or wine tasting of old cricket bats. I will be concentrating on taste, of course and will also (because I am an enthusaistic if infrequent cook) give an idea of what food it will go with –  but I will be asking one essential question – Did it do the business?

I shall, of course, have a grading system based on  a 1-5 scale.  One  is not a good score.  Five  will be nirvana.

I am pleased to report that my Smokedo programme is going well.

I am now a 30aday Dan and managing to do 1000 press-ups, and 500 squats, calf lifts and 500 repetitions of five arm exercises with a 5kg dumbell daily  – courtsey of Mr Amazon who delivered said dumbells to me only yesterday.  I rather overdid it yesterday evening  and found my right arm throwing tea into my face when I lifted my cup this morning – but, in time….  my body will get used to the new muscles.

The drawing to the left is a simulation. For political reasons I cannot be photographed smoking as I use these dumbells.  The technique of gripping the cigarette between the teeth allows natural breathing in and out while using the dumbell equipment.  As always, please do not try this at home unless a Smokedo master is present to advise.


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30th April: News up on Insite Law

The news, law reports, editorial and blog update is up on Insite Law

I would also like to take the opportunity to wish friend and fellow blogger John Bolch of Family Lore – a  Happy Birthday.

Swine flu pandemic alert raised to level five World Health
Guardian: Organisation raises global epidemic threat to second highest level as numbers of infected continue to rise

Telegraph: Some Mexicans have reacted to the swine flu crisis with humour and creativity. A man wears a mask with a moustache drawn on it as he talks on his mobile phone in Mexico City

Also on Insite today…

Foxtons in court with their unfair contract terms | Gordon Brown forgets that he is making PM statement, leaves Commons – hilarity all round | Brown loses Gurkha vote – a warm up for today’s vote on MP expenses which could be an effective vote of No Confidence if he loses that.

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Law and wine… not always a pleasure….

While law and a bit of the red stuff are, shall we say,  interests of mine –  the two together do not always give pleasure.  I was tipped off  by  Thirstforwine (a fellow Twitterer) about the rather absurd behaviour of  Ernst & Julio Gallo who threatened to sue a small Seattle wine and food retailer for importing pasta called ‘Gallo’.  The fact that Gallo is pasta,  and not even people with suspiciously long arms  would confuse pasta with wine, was of little interest to E & J Gallo.  They hired an attorney.  The attorney told The Spanish Table to cease and desist or be sued.

I enter a caveat here. I am assuming that the report upon which I draw accurately represents the events that happened – a not unreasonable assumption as the story is still, at the time of writing, online and the online source is a Wine magazine/blog.

The retailers, the report states, were shocked that the first contact was through a lawyer and made the entirely reasonable point that had someone from E & J Gallo (and I want you to remember that name) contacted them to discuss their concerns they would have been open to discussion. Rather than face a costly legal fight, the retailers wrote to the attorney asking whether the pasta should be given away to a food bank or be destroyed.

E & J Gallo, it seems, wanted more than their pound of pasta.  They wanted name, rank and serial number of the importers of the Gallo pasta…. Ok… I exaggerate… they wanted to know the identity of  the importer of the GALLO pasta. The retailers declined to do so. At this point the reports states The Gallo attorney would no longer communicate with them at all, only with their attorney, in essence, forcing them to hire one. They say that they were given an April 16th deadline to hire an attorney and cease pasta sales, however, Gallo officially filed suit ahead of their own deadline on April 14th.”

While I fully understand and accept that brand owners wish to protect their brands, there is a whiff of the unpleasant about this matter.  Big organisations playing “the heavy” with small organisations is never particularly edifying and less so when  they use oppressive legal tactics and then resile from their own stated plan of action.

However, be that as it may…  and whatever the merits in law in that US state may be – my own view, as a wine drinker’  is that E & J Gallo behaved oppressively.  A quick bit of research on Google revealed that Gallo is a fairly common name in Italy, there is a hotel called Gallo, it is a romance language also and there are several types of Gallo pasta.

I have drunk wines from  Ernst & Julio Gallo. I would be grateful if you would keep this information to yourselves – lest people  point me out to their families in the street and say ‘”There he is… the man who drank an Ernst & Julio Gallo wine.”   They are not to my taste, although they do… do the business.

I am toying now, as I drink a glass of an excellent Rioja – not, of course, produced by E & J Gallo –  with the idea of  manufacturing suppositories and importing them into the USA.  I shall call them GALL-O.  This, of course, is an acronym for Greased Anal Liquid Laxative – Optimised.

Optimised for easy insertion.

Perhaps The Spanish Table, the retailer, would like some to send to the attorney when they return his papers?

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29th April : News up on Insite Law

Daily news and update up on Insite Law

Justice for Gurkhas petition

Join The Daily Telegraph’s campaign to help seek Justice for Gurkhas, calling on ministers to grant them the right to live in the country they have served.
Neuroenhancers and lawyers
Professor Simon Fodden, Slaw: A fascinating blog post about the use of neuroenhancers to improve memory, attention span, performance. Will lawyers be drawn to them? Will lawmakers require certain professions to use them in the future – doctors, pilots – anyone whose job requires enhanced levels of performance.Will lawyers be negligent if they don’t use them in a future world? A good read.

Also on Insite Law today…

A barrister falls down a manhole while on a crime scene visit.  He is drained by the experience | Quota system may be considered for judges | Four years, 52 dead, £100m – no convictions | Natasha Phillips interviews John Hemming MP | Head of Legal:Harriet’s Law – The Equality Bill

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There are many uses for Facebook and it was through Facebook that I discovered the proposal of the Treasurers of Inner Temple and Middle Temple to merge the two Inn libraries. I have not been able to read any details – for no details of this proposal are, as yet, public.  Nor have I, at this stage, contacted the Treasurers to ask for  detail.  It may be, in any event, that the proposals are not at a stage yet for more public debate by outsiders.

Update 11.00: The reference on Facebook has now been deleted

The plan as revealed on the Middle Temple Facebook page is to merge the two collections, with a suggestion mooted of housing them in Middle Temple library and to use the library space at Inner Temple for advocacy and other training purposes.

Both the Middle Temple and Inner Temple libraries house important collections and archives and, I understand, that to squash these important collections into one building will be extremely difficult if the integrity of the collections is to be maintained and serviced properly.  It is also likely that merger will result in redundancies and the inevitable  loss of valuable expertise and knowledge from the dedicated librarians of both Inns.

I spoke to a few senior members of the Bar  and the reaction was not favourable.  It was pointed out to me that Chambers are feeling the pinch and are cutting back on their own library provision and the Inn libraries are, accordingly, an even more important resource than perhaps they were.  There was concern that a reduction in staff and possible cutbacks in resource, already suffering due to budget cuts in the present climate, would impact on the efficient and effective running of the Bar and the daily work of members of the Bar who need to have access to first class resources if they are to maintain high standards.

This is not just an issue about collegiate feel – it is about the provision of resources to the Bar as a whole and the reputation of each member within the profession reliant on a world class law library resource.  I am confident that the proposal will not be supported by the staff of either Inn library.

So – without further ado, given that the cat appears now to be out of the red bag – I would be interested in hearing from barristers, students, solicitors and academics on their views of this proposal. If there are sufficient views expressed in the comments section, perhaps these could be passed on to the Treasurers of both Inns for their consideration?

I will also do some more research and take opinion from my sources and revert.

Over to you.

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The world seems to have gone nuts….

As the dawn broke and more reported cases of Swineflu were reported in the press and on Twitter using the #Swineflu hashtag…. Stephen Fry called upon Twitterers to be responsible.

At approximately 9.45 am this morning Mr Fry issued the following Tweet:

“We must do our best to be sensible about this panic and not let Twitter earn a bad reputation, don’t we think? http://bit.ly/Y2GDh #swineflu”

Yesterday morning there were reports on Twitter about killer jelly fish on the way from Murcia in Spain.  I am keeping a look out for them as they approach British coastal waters.  I am at my post.

Have a look at this film to get a sense of perspective about Swine flu (Hat Tip Aimee Barnes)

If this Twitterdemic (perhaps it should be called Twepidemic?) gets worse, I am sure the sensible people running Health Ministries will tell us. Then we can perhaps panic in a constructive and British way by having a cup of tea or get our Blitz spirit out.

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28th April: News up on Insite Law

News up on Insite Law: a major update – news, profession and a detailed look at the latest from UK law bloggers.

Blawg Review #209
Exceptional – a very good review

Tim Kevan, author of Baby Barista is promoting a very worthwhile cause…

A Barrister Blog: Lord West-Knights, Sir Laurence or a CBE?
Okay. So this is a test to see whether a small and insignificant blogger in North Devon can actually help to get things done. You see, there’s a barrister who I’ve never met despite my own ten years at the Bar but have admired from afar. Admired that is for his passion and dedication to a cause which has helped the lives both of lawyers in Britain and Ireland and also further afield in Commonwealth countries and the USA. It is Laurie West-Knights QC who spent thousands of unpaid hours fighting for and founding the British and Irish Legal Information Institute ( http://www.bailii.org ) which basically led the way in forcing the closed shop of law reporting to put the lot out there for free. So there we are and the reason for this post is to propose him as a People’s Peer and if not that then a Knighthood and if the government can’t stretch to that without money changing hands then at the very least he should be awarded a CBE. So, to all the legal bloggers around the country, I ask simply that you support this mini-campaign and help to get Laurie recognised.

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While the Swineflu is, undoubtedly, serious – there does seem to be an element of panic creeping into the news..  Here is the perfect remedy.  I use it all the time – especially good for that morning after lift to put a spring in your step and give you that feeling you could eat an entire pig.

I am following the matter most carefully and sensibly on Twitter.

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Should he stay or should he go….?

Downing Street has a petition on their website asking if the prime mentalist should resign. It started on Friday and now has over 10,000 signatories.  You may care to add your name to the list?

Guido has the story… ineluctably.

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Any swine flu in your area? PANIC!!

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The law news is up on Insite Law – blog update follows later today.

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I write to you this night from a small room in the House of Lords to report that while my dear friend Lord CashnCarry has escaped detection, two of his fellow lords for hire  have not.  I begin my weekly postcard with a sombre tone.  The Sunday Times reported the devastating news…

TWO Labour peers at the centre of the lords for hire scandal have been found guilty of misconduct by a sleaze inquiry and face suspension from parliament, according to senior House of Lords sources. Senior peers have concluded that Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott have broken the code of conduct of members of the upper house.

It would appear that Lords Taylor and Blackburn, quilty only of ‘whoring out Parliament’ may be barred from The House of Lords for up to a year and, much more amusingly, lose their £335 a day daily tax free allowance.   Guido and others ask… Is there really no criminal sanction?  I am no criminal lawyer, but, astonishingly, despite having more criminal laws than any other country on earth (many of them enacted in the last ten or so years) … it would appear not.  Two other peers are under investigation.

I had the pleasure today of doing two podcasts – With Professor Steve Molyneux, the magistrate who resigned after a fellow magistrate complained about his Twittering and with Gideon, the author of the Public Defender blog.  Both were fun to do and we covered a lot of ground.

Smokedo – Smoke yourself fit with Charon

My quest for definition and the physique of my youth continues with my carefully worked set of eight exercises completed 25 times a day with 50 reps of each exercise while smoking.  Fig 2 illustrates the Smokedo Press-up.  Obviously, this is not a picture of me – the picture is simulated to show how I do it.  The cigarette is also a model. The technique is straightforward:

1. Light cigarette |  2. Asssume pressup position | 3.  do press-up 50 times, remembering to breathe in each time you go down and exhale through the nose, so as to avoid dropping the cigarette, on the way up.

I rather overdid the exercises last night upon my return from a drinking session at The Porterhouse with @Geeklawyer, @ Nancetron, @ Special_noodles, @Rah_rah and @Pandamans. I can say this, though… that while they all appeared to have  hangovers this morning… I did not.  Smokedo… the way of smoking while exercising.  It is easy, Grasshopper. 
Do not try this at home without first consulting a specialist like me.  This is only for professionals or for those who have been given the secret scrolls of Smokedo

I can tell you this though, when I am able to walk again properly, I shall be a lot fitter and slimmer.  It is working…. ripping that flab as I type.

Well on that note… as I clearly appear to have lost the plot… I have to go into a trance like state now, drink a few glasses of Rioja and spend some time with my Tweets on twitter.

Have an excellent week.

Regards as always

Sensei Charonaka

Smokedo Master
30aday Dan

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Lawcast 130: Gideon: A Public Defender (2)

Today I am, talking to Gideon – the nom de plume of the author of a Public Defender, one of the leading criminal law blogs in the United States. I did a podcast with Gideon some time ago. Today we’re going to look at the influence of the Supreme Court on criminal law, catch up with the latest developments in Gideon’s role as a public defender and look at the conduct of a trial; in court. Gideon is a campaigner for the abolition of the death penalty in the United States – so we’ll have a look at if there is any change likely under or during the Obama presidency

Listen to the podcast


Podcast version iTunes

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Lawcast 129: Professor Steve Molyneux – the magistrate who resigned after a complaint following his use of Twitter

Today I am talking to Steve Molyneux, the distinguished academic who is very much in the news today having resigned from the bench as a magistrate after a complaint was received about his Twittering…

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

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Our sceptred isle… redux…

I woke early this morning, walked onto the balcony, took in the early dawn, the gulls flying in formation overhead, lit a cigarette and began my first of a series of 100 repetitions of my new Smokedo exercise regime.  I should, perhaps, explain that I am in my fifties and have been sitting on my arse writing for some months.  It was time to tone a few muscles and get a bit of my body back.

So…  while I  smoke on the balcony I do press ups, crunches, leg squats, isometric tension exercises .  I have 10 exercises in all. I do  about 1000 or so each day of each in repetitions of 50. A pack of 20 ensures that I reach my target.  It works…  A Smoke yourself fit with Charon book  is unlikely, however, to be in a bookshop near you in the near future.

Invigorated by my first three cigarettes (and accompanying exercises) I was able to face the day and drink some tea. It was then that my mind turned to what I should write about before making a state visit to London to meet Geeklawyer and a few  fellow Twitters – Nancetron, Rah_Rah,  Special_Noodles.. and Pandamans.  and begin the ‘Lost day’ at the Porterhouse pub in Covent Garden.

I heard the inspiring sounds of Jerusalem welling up in the dark recesses of my mind…  and a chariot of fire came to mind.  I would write about our sceptred isle… our green and pleasant land and relate the antics of a few British people who have made Britain great this week… or not, depending on your point of view.

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spears o’clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire

So let us kick off with a judge or two. HH Judge Gledhill QC has managed to get himself onto the front page of The Law Society Gazette by giving a few solicitor-advocates a good kicking.  Unfortunately for Gledhill, they were unamused by this and Bullivant and Partners published a rather blunt response.  It may be that Judge Gledhill will soon be able to spend more time with his thoughts.  I covered this earlier in the week and Geeklawyer gives the story a good working over in his inimitable style.

It seems that another judge will be hanging up the horsehair wig. The Telegraph reports that “District Judge Margaret Short was removed for behaviour that was “inappropriate, petulant and rude” with regards to one incident, according to the Office for Judicial Complaints, and “intemperate and ill-judged with regard to another”.”  Apparently Judge Short didn’t particularly care for solicitors either. The telegraph notes…  “She is believed to be the first judge to be sacked since Judge Bruce Campbell was removed for smuggling whisky from Guernsey into England in 1983.”

Ah well… these are mild instances of bizarre behaviour when compared to the daddy of them of them all,  Lord Chief “Justice-in-a-Jiffy” Goddard who,it has been claimed,  had a particular personal reaction to sentencing people to death. According to his valet, Goddard would have an orgasm during sentencing and his trousers had to be sent off to be cleaned as a result. Another and more probable version suggests Goddard reacted in this way when he sentenced defendants to corporal punishment.”

Fortunately, the many judges I have met during 30 years in academe and, more recently through blogging,  have all been rather good ones and extremly courteous and friendly, particularly to students.   Certainly, I would have thought, our profession is better off without tiresomely rude judges?

So who else has been behaving badly?

Well… there is the matter of PC Plodder, or rather PC Rob Ward, 27 who, The Mail reports, ” allegedly boasted on Facebook he was going to “bash some long-haired hippies” at the G20 protests is under investigation” Here is he, the brave man, kitted out in his police stuff looking like Robocop on a bad day.  What is that thing on his head?  It looks like one of those electrode caps. Perhaps he is battery operated? Perhaps that thing on his head is a clamp to keep his brain in?  Who knows? Anyway, he too may well have more time to spend dressing up at home soon.  He is being investigated, The Mail reports.

All in all… not a bad haul for a Saturday morning… but I leave you with one final piece of nonsense.  The Mail reports this morning…one can almost hear the hyperventilating journalist…

She says she’ll name four top Tories as clients in her memoirs. Is vice girl Natalie Rowe a fantasist or ticking time bomb?

And George Osborne even gets a mention… with a cute pic of him with her many years ago…. and The Mail has the gall to say that the story is being handled by the old sleazemeister himself, Max Clifford.”

I shall, of course, be reading the News of The World and other tabloids tomorrow when I return from London to write my Postcard from east of London.  Have a good day…. and as they used to say on Crimewatch.. don’t have nightmares… about Lord Goddard.

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The original Reggie Perrin serious was a classic… this updated version is a bit of a dog… I’m afraid I agree with this guy…

The re-make was embarrassing….. nuff aid.

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And in the red corner tonight…

When two tribes go to war?

The Times reports: “A City accountant convicted of leaving a lawyer’s face virtually unrecognisable in a brawl after drinking lager, champagne and tequila at a leaving party in a Fleet Street pub was spared jail but faces being struck off the chartered accountants’ register. Graham Carr, 39, who worked for KPMG, admitted causing actual bodily harm to Simon McPhee, of the City law firm Freshfields, after repeatedly punching him in the face in the Punch Tavern for talking too loudly. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 110 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £500 costs, reduced after the court was told that he had just been made redundant.”

I don’t know the circumstances of this matter, of course – but it seems to me than an assault leaving a man’s face ‘virtually unrecognisable’ goes far beyond a minor altercation in a pub.   It is astonishing that a professional man can resort to such violence  over such a trivial matter as talking too loudly.  Custodial sentence?  I’m not a criminal lawyer and did not hear the evidence, of course.  Presumably assaults of this severity usually attract a custodial sentence? Perhaps a reader who does practice in the criminal courts can shed some light?

It is just as well that Mr Carr was not a guest at an Inn of Court dining night – there would have been a hundred  or so lawyers talking loudly.

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I don’t know what the doctors, spin or otherwise,  have suggested… but whatever the prime mentalist is on… I want some…

The video by Gordon Brown  announcing the SURGE on MP expenses is manic – a classic.  Turn off the sound for best effect.  If you need a lift this may do it.  He seems to be pissed – but, of course, will not have been.

Sit down, get some popcorn and enjoy the movie.

He may have been watching too many Obama movies.  He’ll be saying ‘Yes he can’, next

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23rd April: News up on Insite Law

The news, editorial, profession updates – now up on Insite Law.

Editor pick of the day
23rd April 2009

Solicitors fight back against judge who was critical of solicitor-advocates.

Hat Tip Magistrate’s blog: Further and better particulars

What the judge had to say | Read this extraordinary response by Bullivant

When lawyers try to make the case for the other side disappear
David Pannick, QC

Mike SP

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