Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Student Loan and Daniel Webster

Dartmouth College v. Kozaczek, 2010 VT 113 (mem.).

What’s an Ivy-league-educated pro se to do when Dartmouth comes knocking to get its Big Green back?  Fight, fight, fight (against) Dartmouth!  In this debt collection appeal, a Dartmouth College alum allegedly owed the institution $17,743 plus interest on three student loans.  The aspiring young Daniel Webster, says Dartmouth “misrepresented” its financial aid package, but this young orator never got to make his closing speech to the jury.  Instead, Dartmouth landed summary judgment when "Webster" failed to adequately respond not once, but twice, to Dartmouth’s requests to admit, and the trial court deemed them all admitted.  On appeal, Webster put up a decent fight, latching onto some clever (and some not-so-clever) procedural-defect arguments.  Ultimately, however, the Big Green prevailed and received $950 in attorney’s fees.

The opinion is a must-read for all Civil Procedure students daydreaming about ways to avoid paying back their student loans.  We call it: The Pro Se’s Guide to Never, Ever, Ever Escaping Your Higher Education DebtSee also "No Bankruptcy Discharge, Either!"  It is your standard three-act drama with a twist and apologies to Stephen Vincent Benet at the end.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Self Medicating, the DCF Registry, and the Folly of the HSB

In re D. McD., 2010 VT 108 (mem.).

Petitioner appeals from the Human Services Board concerning whether he had placed his children at risk of harm by driving with them while intoxicated.  If petitioner had, then his name would be placed in the Department for Children and Families child protection registry. 

Petitioner was intoxicated while driving with his two-year-old children in the car, a fact that petitioner does not dispute.  It seems that petitioner had a few too many while spending the day at an amusement park with his children, and stopped at a gas station to ask for directions.  The gas station attendant reported petitioner’s drunken behavior to the police, and soon an officer discovered the car at a restaurant, filled with empty beer cans and sleeping children.  Later, petitioner explained that he was replacing his bipolar medication with beer. He subsequently sought more professional medical help and dropped his prescription with Dr. Michelob.

Toxically Trashed Tyke’s Tempest Puts Mom on the DCF Hot Seat

By Andrew Delaney

In re M.E., 2010 VT 105.

While most six-year olds were playing with Power Rangers and Legos, P.L. was smoking marijuana. (I hesitate to do it, but I cannot help imagining that P.L. might have used something like this.)

By age nine, P.L. was drinking alcohol and using cocaine on the side. When he was twelve, on May 25, 2008, P.L. had an overdose. At that time, he had Xanax, cocaine, marijuana, and Benzodiazepine in his system. I suspect that the contents of this toxic cocktail might lead even Robert Downey, Sr., whose famous son also began smoking marijuana at age six, to blush.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bibliophile Learns Crime—or at Least an Artful Plea—Does Pay

State v. Baker, 2010 VT 109 (mem.).

            Let us, like the SCOV, make this short and sweet.  Defendant was arrested as a result of a prescription drug fueled rampage and faced nine criminal counts that included prescription fraud, obstruction of justice, violation of an abuse prevention order, and burglary.  The last was for stealing a laptop from the Fletcher Free Library with keys he had got hold of when he was employed there. 

            Obviously, he did not spend a lot of time in the mystery section planning the perfect crime.  But he did spend some time in reference learning to parse the logic of written words as the rest of the case demonstrates.

            Following the theft, the Library changed all of its locks at a cost of $620.67.  At trial, the State sought restitution on the burglary charge based on the lock replacement costs.  The State simultaneously negotiated and approved a plea agreement in which Defendant pled guilty to the three counts of prescription fraud in exchange for dismissal of the other charges.  Defendant signed an agreement outlining his probation terms and general restitution for “uninsured losses.”

Holiday Special: What We Have Been Reading

During the Holidays, our thoughts often turn to other subjects, including carols, presents, and of course, roast beast (unless you are vegetarian, then it might be who-hash).  But the holidays are often the time that we relax from our daily grinds, put up our feet, and enjoy a book.  We at SCOV Law are not immune to the siren's literary call, and we give you a roundup of the last five books that each of us have been reading.  Let us know what you think and more importantly, what you have been reading.  Happy Holidays and Enjoy.  

Gavin Boyles

Babies on the Move
 One of Thea's favorites - jolly pictures of chubby babies in strollers, papooses, backpacks, and sleds.

Star Wars - Anakin and the Clones
Liam loves this one even though it give him nightmares.

Goodnight Moon
I have this memorized, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Gerry [Tarrant] and Hans [Hussey]'s ping-pong filings in the Beaver Wood Biomass Public Service Board Application.
Bound in book form, this tome is a real up-and-comer.

Corwin on The Constitution of the United States (1953 edition)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Street Lawyer: Shine On, Son, Shine On

The Street Lawyer is the Cultured Barrister’s necessary counterpart. Offering a viewpoint sometimes at odds with CB’s, the Street Lawyer takes a no-nonsense approach to the realities of law practice. Sometimes cynical, usually irreverent, and occasionally serious, the Street Lawyer welcomes your feedback.

While it’s hardly as if there’s a dearth of off-topic lawyer-fashion posts on this blog, the Street Lawyer nonetheless presents another this week. At the outset, you should note that I am a fictional, androgynous every-lawyer character. I am neither a male nor a female entity; you should think of me as a gender neutral unicorn. That said, even a gender neutral unicorn needs to keep its shoes in good repair. I also need a sheath for my horn to stop from impaling people in court.  But that is another story. Scuff marks are unsightly and—as you will soon learn—easily taken care of.

Friday, December 10, 2010

SCOV Sets Up Third Trial for Alleged Sex Offender

State v. Herring, 2010 VT 106

Defendant was convicted of several counts of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault on a minor, and lewd or lascivious conduct with a child, and sentenced to thirty-years-to-life in prison.  All charges were based on defendant’s alleged abuse of his daughter from the time she was five years old until she was sixteen.  On appeal, defendant claimed that the trial court erred in multiple evidentiary rulings and in refusing to grant defendant a continuance.  The SCOV agreed with defendant on his first claim of error—that the trial court improperly excluded evidence the defense proffered to impeach his daughter’s testimony—and proceeded to rule that this was not a harmless error.  Therefore, the Court vacated defendant’s conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.  This is not a pretty case, and the evidence being debated is both sad and disturbing.  Reader, take warning.