Monday, February 28, 2005

What is the Bar Association?

A common misconception that I hear from clients is reference to The Delaware State Bar Association as being an official branch of the government. It is not. The DSBA is a private organization with voluntary membership. The DSBA has nothing to do with the licensing of attorneys, approval of them, or discipline.

What the DSBA does do is to assist attorneys in keeping current with changes in the law, provide a venue for exchanges of information, and provide a structured contact system for interaction with government agencies. All of these are very important functions, but they are done on a private and (mostly) voluntary basis. DSBA also runs a lawyer referral service for folks who cannot locate an attorney for their case.

The Delaware Supreme Court wields the authority to license Delaware Attorneys. To accomplish this, they have administrative procedures, rules, and offices. They oversee: the Board of Bar Examiners; the Board of Continuing Legal Education (which mandates periodic classes); The Office of Disciplinary Counsel; and the Lawyers Fund for Client Protection .

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shootin Straight in Texas

In a refreshingly frank, if not a little facetious Court Opinion, Judge Kent Cuts through the fluff and holds the attorneys to the standards we were trained to uphold. As referenced at jumbojoke, this is a real case. I wish we had a few more real cases like this.

Here is a sample from the Opinion:

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact -- complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words -- to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Delaware's Coastal Zone Law and Interstate Commerce

A recent ruling under the Delaware Coastal Zone Act to refuse to grant permission to build a liquified natural gas delivery point on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River may hinge upon revisiting the Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.

Or it could reveal a desire by the federal government to grab control over the ability to make determinations on where liquified natural gas distribution points are located. Such a ruling could be a taking, by the federal government, of control over this controversial topic. And a slippage of state power to the federal government.

The Wilmington News Journal reports on the subject in their article, BP ruling may set stage for battle. This quote from the article is interesting:
"I'm not happy about the decision. I'm resentful of Delaware imposing its very narrow Coastal Zone Act and impacting what is very clearly a New Jersey issue," Burzichelli, a Democrat, said. "Based on a William Penn Border of 250 years ago, we're stymied from introducing new technology in the region to answer energy issues."
The border between the States is on the New Jersey shoreline rather than in the deepest part of the channel between New Jersey and Delaware, and the strict development requirements of the Delaware law does permit Delaware a great amount of power over what gets developed on New Jersey's coastline.

I can't say that I'm upset with the result as it stands now, though.

The Delaware Law Office Team Grows

Back Row: Anne, Larry.  Front Row: Kevin, Craig

The DeLawOffice team grows with the addition of Anne. Bill is the brains in the backfield, out of this shot. But we will catch him with a camera soon, I hope.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Delaware's Super Bowl: Environmentalists 1, British Petroleum 0

Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) have halted plans for British Petroleum to build a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.
In the ruling, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary John A. Hughes said the 2,000-foot pier would violate a 34-year-old state Coastal Zone Act ban on "offshore bulk product transfer" facilities along the Delaware River.

The decision does seem to fit in squarely with the provisions of the Coastal Zone Act that Delaware heralds as one of its finest pieces of environmental protection for the State. An appeal of the decision is expected, and a result against DNREC and the State may be the beginnings of Federal control over the placement of facilities for the delivery of liquified natural gas.

While doing some research on the subject, I came across this site from attorney Tim Reilly: LNG Danger To Our Communities. Some interesting statements and images there.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Heavyweight Contender Takes His Case to Delaware

While it may not be as exciting as Rocky's run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, a different kind of boxing match is happenning in Delaware's District Court. Heavyweight contender Vaughn Bean is taking on his former promoter, Wilmington resident Butch Lewis and his company Butch Lewis Productions.

Bean is alleging that Lewis took advantage of him and robbed him of money and chances to fight in higher level bouts. Bean has twice fought for the heavyweight title, losing to both Michael Moorer and Evander Holyfield. Despite the large purses available in a championship bout, Bean ended up broke.

Lewis and BLP Vice President Michael Spinks (a former client of Lewis' and a former heavyweight champ) claim that Bean never trained hard enough for his fights and breached their contract when he fought (and lost to) Vitali Klitschko in 2002.