Mi blog– en espanol?

I am flirting with this idea…so don’t be surprised if you see posts popping up in my first language-Spanish. My law practice website is bilingual, like me, so why shouldn’t my blog be the same?  My posts will not be translations of my English language postings, rather they will be specifically geared towards a Spanish speaking public.  The more I write about it, the more excited I become.

Buena idea, no?

Children and the Elderly- getting the short end of the stick?

I usually write about the law and its relevancy to my practice areas. However, I just started to think about how so much of my work (and my clients) are impacted by external forces that are beyond our control. These forces affect how effectively I can  do my job and how my clients will live. We are living in very difficult economic times, that some people refer to as the worst economic depression the United States- and the world– has seen in years (second only to the Great Depression).

All of us,  to different extents, have had to practice “austerity”- i.e. the tightening of the purse strings,  doing more with less, putting ourselves on a spending “diet,” and using less plastic and more green –or in many instances, counting our pennies and putting them away.

We have also felt the repercussions of our fragile economic state in the programs that support the most vulnerable in our population- children and the elderly. In my 30 something years on this Earth, I have learned that when times get tough, programs benefiting children and the elderly are always the first to get a good trimming or axed altogether. I admit that these programs are very expensive to administer, however I refuse to look at everything as dollars and cents all the time. I think it is important to look at the dividends these programs yield- that have absolutely no monetary value.

Some of these programs give children a “head start” in life –literally, or provide their parents the opportunity to work and better their lives while the children are being cared for in government subsidized day cares, or allow them to feed their family when they can’t afford groceries.  Others, allow otherwise home bound seniors to receive a nice hot meal, once– or sometimes twice– per day.  Or they run the risk of eating poorly,  not eating at all or burning down the house. I could go on– and on- about the  issues, but I realize this is a blog post not a chapter in a book . And I COULD write a book about my thoughts (just ask any of my close friends, if you know them)

My point is this, if you offer children better opportunities as they begin life you are leveling the playing field and giving them a better chance at having a brighter future.  If you cut off their opportunities early in life, you are basically telling them they aren’t worth the effort– not as much as more affluent children.   If you offer the elderly basic human services as they enter the twilight of their years, you are bestowing upon them the dignity and respect they deserve after contributing to our society during their most productive years.  They are old; not disposable.

Whenever I see someone going through rough times, I say to myself, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”  And it’s true. Anything that is given can also be taken away. Never think it  can’t be you– or someone you know and love. I just wish our legislature saw it that way too…my next post will be about the proposed cuts to existing programs- like Medicaid and home care– for the elderly…which has me scared for my elderly clients. Coming soon.

Facebook in the hands of stupid young people….

As I was sitting at my desk reviewing cases and typing up client notes, I came across the following story in my mail inbox: “Adolescents’ Posts Found to be ‘Puerile’ But Not Actionable”  published in the New York Law Journal.

If you would like to read the actual article, you can go here ( hopefully the link works for you) and if you’re an even bigger nerd (like me) you can read a PDF version of the Court’s decision here.

In short, a young lady from Long Island sued four of her former high school classmates and their parents in Nassau County Supreme Court for defamation and was seeking damages in the amount of $6million dollars.  It seems these  immature, insensitive and cruel teenagers thought it would be a bright idea to create a ‘private’ Facebook page where they could say mean and untruthful things about this young lady. She decided to sue.

The Judge dismissed the case holding that the facts as presented did not rise to the level of defamation, mainly because no human being with common sense and a brain would believe the things these four morons decided to write on Facebook were true (you want the legalese click on the pdf). When addressing the negligent supervision claims against the parents, the Judge also dismissed stating there was no cause of action as there was no “dangerous instrument.”  The “dangerous instrument exception” to negligent supervision states that a parent has a duty to protect a third party from harm when a child misuses a dangerous instrument, when the parent is aware of the instrument and can control its use.

The Judge held that a computer was not a dangerous instrument and that to make it so would open up a Pandora’s box (my words, not hers) for parents everywhere.

This young lady’s attorney even made the argument for cyber bullying but the Judge nixed that mainly because New York State’s laws do not (yet) recognize the aforementioned as a tort (definition: a civil wrong, accidental or intentional, that results in injury to another).

I’ll admit it, I once had a Facebook page, but the shine wore off rather quickly. Too much of a waste of time and a drain on my precious life.  It seems to me that with the advance of social media, people are much too quick to write things on-line but are none too eager to confront situations with others face-to-face, like they did it back in the “good old days” when people actually spoke on the phone or met up to actually speak to each other and tell each other off.

Now, they hide behind their computers spewing venom, not knowing that while they can erase the posts, they can never erase the impact of those words from the minds of the people reading it, or worse yet– from the target.

I hope those four young people learned a lesson. Yes, the lawsuit was dismissed but I doubt the road to that moment was anything but pleasant. And I know they will never forget it as long as they live.

I do not understand why people cannot live up to this very simple, but golden, rule- “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” It’s that simple people, really.