Waiting to Vote?

Monday (October 5, 2015) is the registration deadline for the Special Referendum Election in St. Johns County regarding the one-half cent sales surtax for new school facilities and safety, security and technology upgrades.  Maybe you are waiting to vote until the Primary or the General Elections.  Some US citizens have waited longer than others to go to the polls. Under the original US Constitution, the voter registration included everybody…minus women, blacks, Catholics, and white men who did not have substantial property.  To learn more about modern voters’ registration or to make changes to your registration, go to www.votesjc.com.   Read More

Negligence & Gross Negligence

In Palatka, if you jump out of an airplane and there is nothing in the pack—that is Gross Negligence.  If the pack does not open quite right—that is Negligence.  In terms of home hospitality, you have more duties to your invited guests than to the uninvited ones, but you do have certain liabilities for certain hazards on your property, even for trespassers. Property owners have an assumption of risk.  As far as liability in general terms, there is Intentional Tort (I meant to hit you) and Negligent Tort (you have a duty to someone and you have breached your duty). If someone invited comes to your house and gets hurt, you have liability. If someone runs across your property, you have liability. If you have hazards that are enticing (like a pool with no fence), you have liability. While you have no duty to a trespasser to roll out the red carpet, you can be sued by that trespasser if something happens to him on your property.  If it is a big enough property, you could rent a backhoe, dig a hole, get a chipper and be done with the situation.  But that is not the legal answer.  Seek competent […] Read More

Drafting the US Constitution

Fall cleaning?  While you may be preparing for the holidays with rearranging and cleaning out, framers of the US Constitution did the same thing back in 1787 as they created the document that would be become the foundation of our republic.  You might be surprised at some of the things left out of the US Constitution and what got rearranged. The words “God” and “democracy” were not used in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  Furthermore, the original Constitution did not provide for universal public education or include workers’ rights. Also, many of the founding fathers did not see a need for the Bill of Rights, as the states had their own bill of rights.  Still, the Bill of Rights was drafted, originally with 17 Amendments.  The House passed all 17, but the Senate rejected some, combined, others, and re-organized the list.  The First Amendment was not originally first —giving us freedom of speech and religion, and the right to assemble and petition the government—it was third. So as you prioritize what to keep and what to throw out, remember that the even the founding fathers of this country had to go through a bit of housekeeping when it […] Read More

Florida’s Construction Lien Law

If you paid a contractor to build a sandcastle and he does not show up, what did you actually agree to?  Are you buying the goods or the service?  What was the timeframe?  And did the contractor pay the subcontractors and material suppliers? The word “lien” sometimes terrifies people.  Construction Lien Law protects artisans, laborers, materials suppliers, subcontractors and other professionals doing work on your property or supplying material for it.  Even if you have paid your contractor in full, if the subcontractors and material suppliers do not get paid, they could file a lien against your property. The Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation has a summary of Florida Construction Lien Law written in plain language available online at http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/elboard/documents/florida_lien_law.pdf.  For specific questions, seek competent legal counsel.   Read More

“People”

Government power and legitimacy of the United States is framed within “People.”  “We the People” is the opening phrase of the US Constitution, and “to the people” is the last phrase of the Tenth Amendment (counting the Bill of Rights as part of the Constitution).  Similarly, the practice of law is about People. September 27th marks my seventh year as a practicing attorney.  It is not as easy as it looks.  The complexities of the law and the changes to the law make a lawyer’s job challenging, and fun for me (though not everyone shares my definition of fun).  I am pleased with the process our legal system provides and I enjoy having the education and knowledge of that system to help people.   Read More

Constitution Trivia: Where Was Thomas Jefferson?

Where was Thomas Jefferson when the US Constitution was signed?  George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin were all there on September 17, 1787, but Jefferson was in France on a diplomatic mission.   Read More

Happy Birthday…To Me!

Not everyone would want to be in court on their birthday, or dealing with serious legal matters.  Not everyone is me. Probably the judges are not going to throw me a party today, or rule in my favor just because it is my birthday, but I enjoy being an attorney and having the education and knowledge to help people through a legal problem. Not everyone would want to be onstage playing and singing, but I enjoy that too.  My brother, Stephen, and I are in a band called Old Enough-2-Know Better, and we play tonight at Gypsy Cab’s Corner Bar starting at 7:00 p.m.  You are welcome to come join the party.   Read More

Safe Disposal of Drugs & Drug Paraphernalia

I had an opportunity to do a Hospice interview at Flagler Hospital.  It was a good experience.  It is an interesting job what they do in the Hospice Unit, helping patients and their families through the transition.  I talked with my client and she passed away later that night.  Her son, however, was left with a whole bunch of insulin, which is now drug paraphernalia.  You do not want those things around in case you have law enforcement come to call. The Hospice Unit took care of this in our case as one of the services Hospice does, but there a couple of other authorized locations where you can dispose of drugs and drug paraphernalia safely and responsibly without introducing controlled substances into the water supply, supporting someone else’s addiction, or getting criminally charged for possession.  The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ has the following drop box locations and hours: St. Johns County Sheriff Office Lobby 4015 Lewis Speedway St. Augustine, Florida 32084 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   Julington Creek Annex 725 Flora Branch Blvd. Saint Johns, Florida 32259 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   Read More

Trick Title Question

Once upon a time, Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother found the perfect place to live—a house where Red Riding could care for her Granny without having to cross the woods.  Then the Little Red Hen found the same house, ideal for raising a whole flock of chicks and in a terrific school district.  Since each party was so interested in the property, Mr. Lamb sold it to them both as follows: At 9:00 a.m. Mr. Lamb went to Acme Acres Title Company and sold the property to Red Riding Hood and her Granny. Then at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Lamb arrived promptly at Bargain Property Buys Title Company and sold the property to Little Red. At 11:00 a.m. Acme Acres recorded the closing. At 12:00 a.m. Bargain Buys recorded the closing. Who owns the property? To be sure, Mr. Lamb was a wolf wrapped in velum, but which set of documents is a valid conveyance of the property title, the one signed first at Acme Acres?  Or the second closing at Bargain Property Buys? Answer:  The Little Red Hen now owns the property.  The buyer at the second closing owns the property because that buyer took title without knowledge that […] Read More