Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1628 Posts and Counting

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi: Fire Sale on Steeler Jerseys Bearing Numbers 26 and 84.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 23, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,618

The purveyor of authorized professional team jerseys, Fanatics, has announced a big sale on Jerseys, most of which bear the name and number of Bell, with a few Browns. Here’s three of many.

Whose watching the Store at Ask Avvo? Nobody Home But Us Robots.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 22, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,617

I’m a big Avvo fan.  They have a Q&A feature where people can ask questions to lawyers and get answers.  I participate in it and answer lots of them.  However, the intake, as far as I can discern, does not have a human moderator. A computer evaluates the question and assigns it to a category based on key words.  I say this because I have observed that, although the system works well on the whole,  numerous questions are assigned to the wrong category based on the questioner’s use of inappropriate words. I assume that some questions are culled by the AVVO AI robot based upon words that are not acceptable.  Well, in the specimen below we find a couple more words that should join the removal list. I did not answer the question because I don’t practice in the growing field of voodoo law.

This is an actual question I received from AVVO. As you read this, it has probably been taken down. Note that the spell was cast 20 years ago and the victim is not dead yet. Pretty weak spell.

Being In the Emergency Business

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 20, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,616

The country is now enthralled in a discussion regarding whether a porous Southern border constitutes a national emergency.  A common definition of an emergency is a serious condition that requires immediate action. Whether the open expanses along the national border constitute an emergency under a 1976 statute will now be addressed by the courts. But if the legal issues are not decided legally by the Supreme Court, they may be resolved politically in the next election.

Border security may well be the determining factor in 2020. That outcome is not assured and could be shaped, one way or the other, by unpredictable events. If the Democrats retake the White House, the legal controversy will probably become moot after a new President revokes Trump’s Executive Order on January 21, 2020.

In the meantime, we can only wait for the Supreme Court.

In reality, all litigation is an emergency. Unless a suitable settlement can be reached, somebody is going to lose. At stake are freedom, property, money and other rights.  And the clock is always ticking.  Sometimes the resolution is measured in days, but others in years.  Emergencies can unravel swiftly or slowly and still be urgent.

Lawyers, especially trial lawyers, are in the  emergency business.  They are often required to analyze problems and act on the spot.  In order to do this effectively, they must have the appropriate knowledge and experience.  Most of that is gained on the job. But judgment and temperament are also required. So is the ability to counsel, console and reassure the client. Lawyers with these skills have been likened to social workers and clergy. Sometimes, it seems to me, grief counselor is more appropriate.

Just like a fireman or other first responder, the next emergency for a lawyer is only one ring of the telephone away.




Sunday Morning Meditation: the Bird of Paradise

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 17, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,615

Image: Wikipedia

Pirate pitcher Chris Archer is a rare bird.  He has a mindfulness coach who sends him messages like this Zen proverb: “The bird of paradise lands only on the hand that does not grasp.”

Archer is not likely to ever forget this maxim, nor will it stray from his mind for very long.  He tattooed it on his upper left arm, together with a drawing of an open hand and a scale. The scale, I am told, represents balance.

This is a critical time in Archer’s career.  He went through hernia surgery, which for a baseball pitcher is a singular event.  He chose the surgeon carefully and spent most of the final months of 2018 in agony, rehabilitating basic skills we take for granted. Now he is pitching in Spring Training.  Clint Hurdle announced that he will pitch the home opener on April 1.

Logically, the tattoo belongs on the left arm.  His right hand grasps the ball.

The bird of paradise refers to a large variety of birds found mostly in Indonesia and surrounding islands. It also refers to severally plants from the same region with leaves that are reminiscent of these birds.  Their common trait is bright and beautiful plumage. It may be a metaphor for happiness, which cannot be seized and held.  Instead, the bird chooses to visit you. But, the visit is temporary. So enjoy it.

I must confess that I never heard this saying before. However, I do remember the one which I believe was attributed to the philosopher Johnny Carson.  “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”  It was an insult and a curse, which was the title of a dumb song by Little Jimmy Dickens that was played a lot on the radio, circa 1965.(You can find it on You Tube) The singer was grossly unkind to a beggar, a laundryman and a cab driver, each of whom wished this fate upon him.  What would otherwise bring joy apparently turns out to be an imaginative and very painful way to die.

The real message has been explained thus.  Don’t seek happiness directly.  And don’t try to find it in pleasure, wealth or any of those pursuits. Do what you should be doing in this world and happiness may come.

And so, at the time of a new beginning for Chris Archer, I wish him a visit from the bird of paradise. And to you, too.


In Case You Didn’t Receive Any Valentines this Year. . .

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 14, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,614

Here’s one that would have brought down the house and earned you detention at school back in the old days. Today they would probably take you out in handcuffs and call the FBI.


Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 12, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,613

If you are interested in disability law and need some CLE credits, you may wish to sign up for this 3 day event.  It clearly has a much wider scope than law, but if this is your intended field, you may find it contains what you need.

Aging in Place

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 7, 2019 | © 2019

No.  1,612

Fannie Mae, the government agency that keeps the residential financing market  moving, reports that those greedy seniors are holding 1.6 million housing units off the market. Prior generations sold their homes at a younger age, making more quality housing available for young families.

Of course, the reason why more of us are aging in place is because we are happy in the place called Home. Period.  A free market includes the right not to sell.  Selling a house costs money and a whole lot of work.  It may require parting with furniture and possessions acquired during a lifetime. Not selling has too many advantages.  That’s why people do what they do.

There is an assumption built into prevailing economic thought that prosperity is driven by a continuous cycle of production and spending. This model does not apply to the aging homeowner.  From their personal point of view, saving a dollar is the equivalent of earning a dollar.  And that’s what people who stay out of the housing marketplace do.

This isn’t China.  Quit telling people what they are supposed to do to promote the greater good, Fannie Mae. All of those houses will be on the market soon enough.



Regression to the Mediocre and the Tsunami of Useless Stats.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 4, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,611

Why did I watch that game last night?  I said I wasn’t going to do it.  But in the end, I even watched most of the commercials, none of which were funny, and most of the halftime show, which was not even mildly entertaining. Nevertheless, I found  the pregame video presentation on the role of Atlanta in the Civil Rights movement and public service ads on special needs children to be fresh, interesting and thought provoking.

Do you enjoy knowing that this was the first time that a S**** B*** had been played without a touchdown being scored in the first three quarters?  Was it worthwhile to know that you had just witnessed the longest punt delivered during the S**** B***?

Truth was, it was a boring game between two de-facto runners-up who happened to win their respective championship games, primarily through luck.  They characterized it as a defensive contest and maybe it was. However, I had something to read that night, and I wasted the opportunity.




What We Think Is and What Actually Is.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| February 2, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,610

Nasim Nicholas Taleb has made a career in explaining to us that some things we think we control are random and some things we think are random are really under our personal control.

When we win, too often we call it skill.  When we lose we call it bad luck.  Of course, there can also be some of each. How do you tell the difference?

Analyze it.  Break it down piece by piece, step by step to determine whether the outcome was predictable and whether you actually made it happen. Remember, there are others who are also making things happen that you don’t control.  If you had done something different, would the outcome have been different? If you do the same thing again, but someone else does something different, will the outcome be the same?

All over the radio band, they are talking about Antonio Brown going off the rails.  A large contingent of commentators seem to think that Coach Tomlin could have avoided the problem by enforcing discipline.  Maybe, but we will never know for sure.  There are two players in this game and they can both change the outcome by varying their actions.  When one of them is unpredictable, meaning he might select a response from a wider range of choices, there are a wider range of possible outcomes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when the outcome is not controlled by your actions.  But don’t be too quick to be easy on yourself by attributing the outcome to bad luck.




Its -4º. Don’t Go Outside Unless You Have to Go To Court.

Posted by Cliff Tuttle| January 31, 2019 | © 2019

No. 1,609

The Court of Common Pleas and all of the Magisterial District Judges were closed yesterday. That was a sensible thing to do. However, the courts are open today, even though its a little colder than yesterday.  Please exercise caution.

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CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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