Just a Lawyer in Lincoln's Hometown

February 11, 2013

Saving Lincoln

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 8:15 pm

I attended this afternoon the first public screening of Saving Lincoln, sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Association. Saving Lincoln is an independently produced film sharing a dramatized story of Lincoln and his good friend and “self-appointed protector” Ward Hill Lamon. Laman, originally from the south, was a lawyer who road the old Eighth Circuit  with Lincoln. He became a constant companion and bodyguard to Lincoln in Washington. He was famously absent on the night of Lincoln’s assassination. 

You can tell that this movie is both independently produced, and a work of love. The writer/producer Salvador Litvak was at the screening and his enthusiasm shone from him all through his remarks. The audience, including me, gave the film and Mr. Litvak well deserved standing ovations. 

I encourage you to point your browser to savinglincoln.com to learn more.

February 10, 2013

Knoxville Courthouse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 8:37 pm

Dull gray, wet, rainy, windy – not my idea of a day for a road trip  But I am glad I went. Sarah and I attended the Lincoln’s Birthday celebration at the Knoxville Courthouse in Knoxville, IL. When I practiced law in Peoria I often passed through Knoxville and knew the old Knox County Courthouse was still there, but I didn’t know what a gem it was. I found out today.

Built in 1839 and used as the county courthouse until the county seat was moved to Galesburg in 1873, the building is now used as part of the museum complex run by Knox County Historical Sites. The courthouse is built of locally made handmade bricks and local hand finished butternut wood. The building has been extensively rehabbed, especially the 1st floor. A lot of work has been done on the second floor, but you could see the dream in the volunteers’ eyes when they spoke of restoring it to its courtroom glory. Judge Steven Douglas held court there in 1841-43.

Today’s celebration included a reception for Dr. Rodney Davis, and Dr. Douglas Wilson. Both are nationally known Lincoln scholars at Knox College in Galesburg. The professors are nationally acclaimed for their Lincoln Studies Center and their authorship.

For years the old Courthouse housed the entire collection of the Knox County Historical Museum. It still contains many pieces in the old courtroom. But just across the street is the new museum. Climate controlled (unlike the Old Courthouse), which protects a wonderful collection, and containing everything from a buggy used by Abraham Lincoln during the 1858 Senate campaign, to WWII memorabilia, this little museum makes a great impression.

We didn’t have the time to see all that Knoxville offers, and I know there is more. Knoxville has a great gem in its downtown, one well worth a visit.

January 19, 2013

Looking for Lincoln in Quincy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 9:42 am

Traveled to Quincy, Illinois, yesterday with my darlin. Attended a meeting at the wonderful Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design. If you are in Quincy, it is well worth the visit. I have always loved Quincy as it has hung on to much of its older architecture, with buildings from the 1840’s forward.

Unknown to me before yesterday was that Quincy sheltered the Mormans exiled from Missouri in, I believe, 1838-39. Itwas a big deal because not only were Mormans rejected by many people, but there were literally more Morman refugees than residents of Quincy. The Mormans moved on to what was to become Nauvoo, Illinois – and the later persecution and murder of Joseph Smith in 1844 which led to the migration westward.

Quincy also hosts interesting Lincoln era sites. Of course many know that it was one of the Lincoln-Douglas debate sites. But many other connections exist, and there remain the traces of the rivertown importance of the town. Many people forget that during most of Lincoln’s life the  country’s “highways” were in fact its rivers. The important cities were on the  coasts or rivers. That meant places like Quincy were truly bustling and centers of learning and power. At one time Quincy was the second largest city in Illinois. One cannot understand the forces that shaped Abraham Lincoln without appreciating places like Quincy.

Quincy remains a wonderful town. You can feed the empty belly caused by seeing the sites at wonderful eateries like the Patio. Newly discovered by my wife and me, it is long time eatery in Quincy. Homey like only older places can be, it serves what I swear is the world’s largest pork chop. Fully two inches thick and perfectly grilled, as much as I tried I couldn’t finish it. Sarah enjoyed the twice baked and they accomodated my blood sugar with a side of brussels sprouts. The Patio was worth the trip, but is only one of the many delights in Quincy.

December 7, 2012

Cats Paw: YouMust Investigate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 1:32 pm

As I have seen a flurry of “cats paw” cases, I thought I would explore Staub v. Proctor Hospital, 131 S. Ct. 1186; 179 L. Ed. 2d 144 (2011), a US Supreme Court decision that established, finally, the so called cats paw theory as a permanent part of discrimination jurisprudence. The cats paw theory, oversimplified, holds that an employer is liable for discrimination even if the person making the ultimate employment decision is not motivated by discrimination, when that person is relying upon someone else who is.

So, when an HR professional makes a decision to terminate an employee based upon the recommendation of that person’s supervisor, that professional needs to conduct a thorough investigation of the supervisor’s allegations. If it appears that the supervisor maybe motivated by something other than that set forth in the recommendation, such as a dislike of the employee’s participation in military service (as was the case in Staub), an even deeper investigation maybe required.

If the HR professional merely accepts the recommendation for termination without investigation, and if the recommendation for termination was motivated at least in part by an illegal bias, the company may be liable for an illegal termination. So good faith at the top is no longer an insulation from liability. The good faith must extend from the employees through the decision maker. This means investigatory skills are now a prime part of the skill set needed in HR. If those investigatory skills are not a part of the HR system of your business, either hire someone with them or contact an attorney who does have them.

July 28, 2012

Domestic Violence: Some Warning Signs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 1:46 pm

Sometimes acts of domestic violence seemingly come from nowhere. But the usual case is that the victim didn’t see the “warning signs.” In my practice I often talk to people who I believe are in a potentially abusive relationship. In tracking those cases and reading many other cases and articles, I have developed my own list of “warning signs.”

Warning Signs:

Easy: If he does this – get out!

  • He constantly makes you feel worthless and devalued; putting you down.
  • He threatens you or your loved ones.
  • He slams things, throws things, or breaks things when upset.
  • He punishes you, by abusing your kids or pets.
  • He makes all the decisions.
  • He doesn’t let you further your education, or work.
  • He require you to work, but the money goes to him.
  • He controls your access to medicine, medical care, and/or medical devices.
  • He pushes, slaps, restrains, kicks… physically abuses you.
  • He expects/demand sex, sexual acts you aren’t comfortable with, or sexually assaults you.

Hard: These are more subtle and may or may not point to potential abuse. The more of these he engages in or the more severe the act, the more likely that abuse is imminent, or happening.

  • He is jealous of who you talk to.
  • He puts you down in front of others.
  • He always finds fault with things you said or did at social events.
  • He checks in very often to see what you are doing, where you are, and/or who is with you.
  • He only wants you to do things with his friends and family.
  • He is utterly uninterested in spending time with your friends or family.
  • He objects to you being involved with you friends or family.
  • Everything is your fault.
  • He rushes to move in move-in, or get married.
  • He wants to be involved with everything you do.

You see that almost all of these clearly involve him being in control. Abuse is almost always an issue of control. Anything he does that appears to be him asserting control to the exclusion of you, can be another “sign”

May 31, 2012

Justice Stevens’ Reasoned Takedown of Citizens United | ACS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 8:39 pm

Justice Stevens’ Reasoned Takedown of Citizens United

May 31, 2012by Jeremy Leaming

At some point perhaps soon the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative wing will have to reckon with some of its sweeping assertions in its controversial 2010 Citizens United v. FEC majority opinion.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in a methodical, thoughtful speech at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Services detailed why he thinks some of the holding in Citizens United is due for reconsideration.

via Justice Stevens’ Reasoned Takedown of Citizens United | ACS.

Further proof that being a Cubs fan does not impair one’s ability to reason well. Justice Stevens was right to retire, but we miss him. Citizen’s United is one of the worst things to ever happen to American electoral politics.

May 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 7:58 pm

I know I have seen cases like this – but they are subtle and difficult to prove.

The Situationist

From Harvard Business Review (part of an op-ed written by Lauren Stiller Rikleen):

The new millennium has not brought much progress for women seeking top leadership roles in the workplace. Although female graduates continue to pour out of colleges and professional schools, the percentages of women running large companies, or serving as managing partners of their law firms, or sitting on corporate boards have barely budged in the past decade.

Why has progress stalled? A recent study suggests the unlikeliest of reasons: the marriage structure of men in the workplace.

A group of researchers from several universities recently published a report on the attitudes and beliefs of employed men, which shows that those with wives who did not work outside the home or who worked part-time were more likely than those with wives who worked to: (1) have an unfavorable view about women in the workplace; (2)think workplaces…

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April 2, 2011

My New Law Firm

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 7:42 pm
Tags: ,

Watson Law, LLC is now in business. My experiment with partnership has shown me that I really do not play well with others. Years of solo practice do not prepare one for working well with others. Solo practice involves making decisions about the practice by one’s own self, and living, or dying, by the results. Working in a firm structure is very different. You need to take account the needs and desires of another, sharing the decisions and the results. It’s a lot like a marriage.

My long-suffering wife and I live in partnership. We are successful.

Apparently, I only have one such arrangement in me.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

February 16, 2011

Employers – Wake Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 7:29 am
Tags: , , ,

Employers,

Just because one or more of the people who worked for you only lasted a few months, or even weeks, you are NOT excused from giving them a W-2. Even if you want to classify them as “Temps”, they were employees who should have had taxes withheld and who are now owed W-2s. You are late, get to it.

Thank You.

February 14, 2011

The Best Client

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

On occasion I wonder what clients think lawyers do for a living. Mrs. X hired me to prosecute her divorce action against that no-good, cheating Bas*rd she was married to. Had to dig deep into her financials, investigate the claims of adultery (since she would not agree to move forward with a more innocuous claim), look into the child custody issues, etc. Spent a good long time doing all the preliminary work and drafting the petition for Dissolution, Petition for Temporary Relief, and some unique discovery. I had her in, reviewed all the material with her, told her what else needed doing, and got her OK to file.

Literally hours before filing, I got the call that she was getting back together with her husband.

Getting back together is a good thing.

But then she said, “When do I get my money back?” We discussed the matter, but I never moved her past “but you didn’t do anything for me.”

I give up.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

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