July 18, 2012

Commercial & Residential Landlord-Tenant Law Seminar

On September 27, 2012, Christopher Slottee, a partner with Atkinson Conway & Gagnon, will be participating in a seminar on Commercial & Residential Landlord-Tenant Law. Mr. Slottee will be presenting information and materials on Alaska law regarding residential leases and the obligations of landlords and tenants. Other topics that will be addressed at the seminar include commercial lease issues, the eviction process, and when a tenant or landlord file for bankruptcy.

The seminar is being organized by Sterling Education Services. You can register for the seminar at this link.

December 30, 2009

Year End 2009

It has happened without anyone much noticing. The year end has snuck up on us here at the worldwide headquarters of the Alaska Law Blog, and we are completely unprepared. It might be that we have been too busy actually practicing law these days to spend any time blogging about it. Or it might be that we’ve frittered away too much time staring out the window at Russia over the way there. (No wait! That might actually be the Mat Su Valley across the Inlet. Does Vladimir Putin even wear Carhartts?)

But regardless of the cause for our lassitude (and no, I don’t mean a collie dog with a chip on its shoulder), we have been unable to compile our annual list of Alaska law highlights for the year. (OK, so we only actually did that once.) Since Gov. Palin resigned there hasn’t been all that much of note going on anyway. The replacement unit, Gov. Parnell, has conducted himself in a much more level-headed manner. It’s probably just a coincidence that the replacement unit is a lawyer himself.

wayneslist.jpg So we have to confess that the Features Desk here at the Alaska Law Blog has fallen down on the job and cannot produce the annual list. To make amends to our reader out there, I’ve compiled a list of other people’s law-related lists. Hey, I know it’s filching. But in the law business this is an accepted practice. Original thinking usually means your motion will be denied or your case dismissed.

Besides the only real Alaska law highlight that occurred this year was the passing of Überlitigant Daniel DeNardo. Mr. DeNardo was a fixture in the Anchorage law library and he always good for at least five lawsuits every year, sometimes as many as ten or twelve. More often than not, the judge who last threw out one of his cases would be named as a defendant in the next one, as a part of an ever broadening consipiracy in Mr. DeNardo’s view. (It was kind of like a reverse Ponzi scheme.) Mr. DeNardo’s death has no doubt freed up a large amount of judicial resources in the Alaska Court System. So perhaps one of the trial court judges might be joining the unemployment line. (Shocked at the possibility? Don’t be, it’s happened elsewhere.)

Anyway, if you want to be entertained by year end lists, here are handful to check out:

The Weirdest Legal Cases of 2009 (Heavy emphasis on sex and lizard poo.)

The 10 Most Infamous Lawyers of 2009 (Heavy emphasis on -- what else -- Ponzi schemes and other violations of the securities laws.)

8 Outrageous Lawsuits (Personal favorite: the Hooters waitress who sued because she thought she had won a car in a sales contest at work. The prize turned out to be a Star Wars action figure: a toy Yoda. Her lawyer got her a good settlement.)

Beautiful Massachusetts Lawyers of 2009 (Proof that lawyers are good for more than just starting an argument.)

25 Reasons Hollywood Needed Lawyers In 2009 (Celebrities!)

The 16 Most Entertaining Law Blogs (This list is actually from earlier this year. The reason I like it is that several of the blawgs listed are now canceled or are no longer updated. So perhaps there's hope the Alaska Law Blog can make this list next year.)

October 2, 2009

A Rogue Blog Post

The Alaska Law Blog is completely apolitical. We withhold our campaign contributions from the left and the right in equal measure. We have no agenda, save that which advances the cause of unmuddied legal thinking in the Last Frontier.

But sometimes the political circus overwhelms our studied apathy. The announcement yesterday on former Governor Sarah Palin's new book, Going Rogue: An American Life, and the frenzy thereby unleashed, have overtopped the restraints we have erected. The book hasn't even been released for the public to read yet and still every media outlet and blog is abuzz over it.

RED791_300.jpgBut this book by the phantom Governor is not all bad news. It has yielded its co-author a handsome monetary advance. The upwelling tizzy over it will sell a great many copies and lead to a gutpile of royalties. (The book is already tops on Amazon's bestseller list.) With these earnings, the Governor-who-isn't will be able to now pay a very large outstanding bill that she owes to the fine Alaska attorneys who successfully fended off the ethics complaints made against her.

And, even though the hullabaloo over this book is likely going to get tiresome, anything that provides for the payment of large outstanding legal bills is, as a general rule, something that we at the Alaska Law Blog favor.

March 19, 2009

Scoping Out 50 Years Of Statehood

Alaska is celebrating 50 years of statehood this year. Speaking as a 50-plus year old guy, I know what comes next. That’s right, it’s time for Alaska to get a colonoscopy.

No doubt the State could really benefit from a good cleansing and inspection of its lower tract. All the nastiness the federal gummint, the oil companies and the politicians have shoved down Alaska’s throat over the years had to end up somewhere. We need to be sure those hazardous materials are out of the way to prepare for the smooth operation of the State for the next 50 years. Sure, these medical procedures can be expensive, but I think we could use federal stimulus money to pay for it. It ought to qualify as a shovel-ready infrastructure project since it’s critical maintenance of Alaska’s Old Dirt Road.

6a00e55007cfb1883400e5534c305e8833-800wi.jpg I can just imagine our Official State Gastroenterologist, Dr. Ashman, performing the procedure. The Doc will slip the colonoscope into Alaska’s anal canal, which is otherwise known as the State Capitol Building in Juneau. A little lubrication may be required to do the job properly. The usual lubricant for that location would probably work best. So the Doc is going to have to slip the Sergeant-At-Arms guarding the door a little cold hard cash.

As the scope enters the State’s sigmoid colon, Doc A is going to encounter a tough bezoar of hair and whatnot lodged there. The hair is left over from Ramona Barnes’ beehive 'do when she ran the Legislature, and it’s all bound up with tufts of llama fur that must have come off of one of the power suits former Senate President Jan Faiks wore. Yikes! Alaska doesn’t need that stuff anymore, not now that a new woman has a firm grip on the seat of power. The Doc will have to prise the hairball loose and flush it out of there.

Moving on up the descending colon, the scope will come upon a series of lesions in the intestine wall leaking an oily fluid and surrounded by ugly bile stains. Yes, it’s the sad remnants of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Doc makes a note in the medical chart to be sure to pursue the $100 million “Reopener” clause in the settlement agreement reached in the civil lawsuit against Exxon. In legal terms, this is known as asking for additional unforeseen damages, but in medical parlance the procedure is called a “walletectomy.” The Doc also notes that perhaps the lesions would heal up on their own if Exxon would just spoon-feed the State a strong dose of gas line development elixir.

The scope next passes into the transverse colon. Here, the Doc finds an odd looking polyp wiggling around. His first inclination is to snip the thing off. But then he takes a closer look and recognizes it as the Alaskan Independence Party. The Doc knows that this thing is benign. In fact, Alaska has gotten good use out of the AIP. It made for great copy during the last election when reporters from Outside discovered Todd Palin was previously an AIP member. So they thought the First Dude was advocating for Alaska to secede from the union!

Plus, Doc A recalls that there are guys in Russia predicting the economic collapse of the USA with Alaska reverting to Russian control. The AIP could come in handy if that came to pass. Almost all Alaskans would agree it’s far better to set up the independent Republic of Alaska than to become Extremely East Siberia. So the Doc leaves the AIP polyp alone.

Dr. Ashman finally pushes the scope all the way up to the ascending colon. Oh My Goodness! He finds diverticulosis, not far from the cecum. And it’s red and inflamed, clear signs of an active infection. This, of course, is the VECO scandal through which Alaskans have discovered just how little money it takes to buy an Alaska politician.

Doc A makes a final note to call the specialists from Washington, D.C. about this diverticulosis. A diet higher in fiber would also help, with the fiber being politicians who have a backbone and some actual integrity. The Doc has no illusions, though, about Alaska embracing the lifestyle changes that are necessary for this to happen.

And there you have it. Not a pretty picture, but a necessary thing for the future health of any 50 year old.

December 24, 2008

2008 Top Five List

It seems every media outlet and blogger is trotting out a top ten list for 2008. The “Top Ten News Stories of 2008.” The "Top Ten Celebrity Meltdowns of 2008.” Even the "Top Ten Douchebags of 2008."

The Alaska Law Blog has to get in on this action. But there is no way I have the time to put together a list with ten things on it. So I’ve pared it back to just five entries. Hey, you get what you pay for. In this case, you only paid for a half-assed top ten list and that is exactly what you’re getting.

So, here are the top five law-related items of riveting interest for 2008:

No. 5: A contributor to the Alaska Law Blog provides weekly updates on Alaska Supreme Court decisions. Except that it turns out the weekly updates actually come out maybe once or twice a year. (You didn’t think I was going to make a top five list and leave us off of it, did you?)

No. 4: Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson sues his local dry cleaner for $67 million because they lost a pair of his pants. Alas, Judge Pearson did not prevail on his claim that the sign “Satisfaction Guaranteed” meant the dry cleaner had to pay him whatever he asked for the lost pants. The court said “Satisfaction Guaranteed” established a reasonable man standard, not a subjective standard. (Where have we read that before?)

This news item could be more appropriately titled: “The Judge Is An Ass, Or Does This Lawsuit Make My Butt Look Big?” There was a lot of testimony at trial about Judge Pearson’s pants having three elastic waistband inserts sewn into them.

learnedhand.jpgNo. 3: Know your Learned Foote from your Learned Hand. This WSJ Blog story from earlier this month just warmed the cockles of my wizened heart. Some years back a guy named Fred Foote went to Harvard Law School. In Torts class one day they discussed a decision by New York Judge Learned Hand. Fred was so impressed that right then and there he decided to name his first born son “Learned” after the judge. Many years later, despite having plenty of time to sober up, Fred followed through on this vow. Fred’s son, Learned Foote, is now an undergraduate student at Columbia University, but young Learned is being coy about whether he’ll go on to law school.

No. 2: The U.S. Supreme Court does not appoint the next President. In some countries, the elections are rigged and the results are pre-ordained. Soviet satellites, banana republics, and African dictatorships all have had the benefit of free and open elections, as long as the vote of the people did not really count. We should be grateful that the U.S. is not one of those countries, . . . or at least it has not been one since the last change of power in Washington.

We can only hope that the Court has learned from past mistakes. This year the Court actually had the chance to take a case seeking to overturn Barack Obama's election. The lawsuit alleged Obama wasn't a natural-born citizen because his father was a Kenyan, which only made him half-American. In contrast, the paintiff who brought the case was a full natural-born American, yet still seemingly a half-wit. The Court declined to accept the case.

No. 1: Mrs. Palin went to Washington. Whether you think Governor Sarah Palin is the second coming of Ronald Reagan or Dan Quayle, you gotta admit she’s good for lawyers. We had a late summer blitzkrieg of lawsuits and administrative proceedings over Troopergate. These more or less boiled to do how much Sarah was pulling the strings to control her husband Todd. Two respected members of the Anchorage bar reached exactly opposite conclusions on the matter. All of this was fine. Except then they screwed up by not hiring a third lawyer to break the deadlock, which it seems to me is what you want to have happen when full employment for lawyers is the goal.

As it was, they left the whole thing as a tie. This gave the affair the flavor of a stylized Kabuki theater production. All fancy dress, prancing around, and a screeching soundtrack, with the actual plot a secondary consideration.

November 21, 2008

Ghost Bike In Anchorage

I saw my first ghost bike in Anchorage this morning. It was a somber shock for a Friday morning commute.

The ghost was leaning against a sign, in the median strip of C Street, at the intersection with 40th. It was a true apparition. The headlights from the passing traffic swept across it in the morning dark. The stark white bicycle gleamed back at the motorists, standing as a silent witness to the transgression of one of them.

Picture%20003.jpgI’m not sure how many folks in Anchorage know what a ghost bike is. A ghost bike appears at the location where a bicyclist has been killed or seriously injured. According to ghostbikes.org, ghost bikes first began to be seen in St. Louis in 2003. They are memorials to a life that has been lost or damaged, and they are protests against the sometimes terrible dominance of the internal combustion engine. Their numbers have been increasing across the country and now the world. But I’ve never seen one in Alaska. That is, not until today.

This particular ghost has appeared for a young man who is no longer riding his bicycle among us. On the morning of October 20, 2008, 19-year-old Jonathan Johnson was riding across C Street at 40th when an SUV struck him. He was seriously injured in the accident and died from his injuries a few days later.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But during my drive to work on October 20, I saw the accident scene. The police and paramedics were still in the intersection when I drove by that day. The flashing lights of the emergency vehicles raked through the dark. Traffic was completely stopped in the southbound lane of C Street; it was crawling in the northbound lane.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. So I cannot tell you what the aftermath of his accident and death will be. There may be legal issues to sort out, such as liability questions, insurance issues, etc. I'm not sure. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the police did not cite the driver of the SUV in the accident.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But I ride the same bike routes he did. When I can squeeze a bike commute in, I ride the bike trail along C Street to my office downtown, summer and winter alike. For all I know, I could have passed Jonathan Johnson going the other way on the bike trail one day as I was making my way to work. I have a connection to Jonathan Johnson because I know that what happened to him could also happen to any other bike commuter, myself included.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But I know what it is like to ride bikes in Anchorage. There was a recent article in the paper about Anchorage being called a “bike friendly” city. The author of the article did not agree with that characterization, saying Anchorage was a "city with no shortage of dangerous places to ride." I also think that calling Anchorage a “bike friendly” city is a dubious description, although I can say that it is a whole lot friendlier to bikes than it used to be.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But I drive the streets of Anchorage the same as the young woman who ran her SUV into him. I know the challenge of coming upon a bicyclist in the dark when you are not keeping an eye out for one. After Jonathan’s accident, the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage posted a notice on their website reminding cyclists to use lights and reflectors for winter rides.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But I feel sympathy for his family. A life cut short at 19 years of age is a thing impossible to ever fully accept.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But I am a fellow citizen and cyclist of Anchorage. I can feel his passing, and I am sad there is one less cyclist in my city.

I did not know Jonathan Johnson. But I know the ghost that stands for him now.