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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 28, 2006

get that lawyer out of my shower

Filed under: pre-06-2006,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 8:23 pm

Is “My Mommy made me do it,” a defense for bringing a frivolous claim?  How about, “Plaintiffs threatened to disown me”?  I have a feeling that Colorado lawyer Sheldon H. Smith may find out in a few weeks (March 22), when his Noisy Bather lawsuit comes before Denver District Court Judge Ronald Mullins. (Denver Post, “Lawsuit: Baths swamp sleep”, by Mike McPhee,  Feb. 21, 2006;, “Early Bather Lawsuit,” Feb. 27, 2006)


As usual, Walter Olson has summed up the case pithily:  WOlson
“Shannon Peterson, a special education teacher in the Arvada, Colo. public schools, “can’t believe she’s being sued for bathing before leaving for work.” But the elderly couple who lives upstairs from her Denver condo unit have been complaining about noisy pipes, and unfortunately for Ms. Peterson they happen to have a son, Sheldon Smith, who’s an attorney at the large law firm of Holland and Hart.


    Sheldon Smith, Esq.  “Represented by their son, the Smiths ‘sued Peterson just before Christmas, citing the ‘reckless and negligent use of her bathtub.”’  Before that, the younger Smith had fired off a letter to Peterson, saying her ‘intransigence … and tortuous conduct have resulted in incredible sleep deprivation for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Your obstinacy has ruled the day. That will now cease.’    According to the Denver Post, his demand letter insisted that that Peterson not run water in her bathtub before 8 a.m.”  


Peterson told the Denver Post:  


“I’ve done everything I can think of to work this out,” she said. “I’ve had maintenance men remove all my tile and insulate the pipes. I’ve had sound engineers measure my unit and others in the building. Nothing’s abnormal. Even the homeowners’ board investigated and told the Smiths they should install sound barriers in their unit.”  


The Post reported that “the homeowners’ association stepped into the fray and wrote Smith a letter that his request didn’t comply with the building’s rules.” Fortunately, Peterson is getting help from a friend, lawyer J. Michael DowlingFrom what I’ve read, I have to agree with Dowling’s assessment: “This is the most frivolous lawsuit I’ve seen in 30 years of practicing law.”  



bathtubG So far, coverage by Overlawyered has provoked a chorus of webloggers rightly decrying the lawsuit.  It will be interesting to see if this negative publicity gets all of the Smiths to back down.  Of course, only Lawyer Smith has to worry about violating professional ethics rules against bringing frivolous claims — claims that have no colorable basis in fact or law. 

showerHead At first, I thought Sheldon Smith might be a tenderfoot, too young to say “no” to his parents’ request for legal assistance.  But, his firm bio page suggests that he’s in his mid-50s, and is a respected lawyer in his specialty of employee and executive benefits.  (He’s worked as an adjunct faculty member at Denver Law School and as a CLE presenter.)  What I don’t understand is how his partners at the Rocky Mountain mega-firm of Holland & Hart could have let this matter get out of hand. 


showerHead     Certainly, someone in H&H’s Real Estate Litigation practice group could have told him how lame his claims are.  Also, H&H has an Alternative Dispute Resolution section that could have come up with options short of litigation and national infamy.   More to the point, however, H&H’s Water Rights practice group boasts: “Our water law practice involves commercial and other transactions that routinely require skilled negotiations and first-rate administrative experience.”  Couldn’t they, or someone, at H&H have stopped this silly lawsuit?  I have a feeling that somebody there just might be leaning on Sheldon Smith right now.  I sure hope so.

tiny check Once again, I’m learning legal practice tips too late.  Forget about noisy showers.  When I moved into my first condo, in Alexandria, VA, two years out of law school, I could hear love-making from three other condo units (above, below, and on the otherside of my bedroom wall).  Talk about keeping a lonely guy up.  I wonder if H&H had a D.C. office back in 1978.

update Thanks to Suz-at-Large for pointing (March 11, 2006) to this post. Suz had an earlier piece on the case (Feb. 22, 2006), with the sub-headline: “The Law is Not An Ass, But No Thanks to Some Lawyers.”   Suz points out that the new weblog Leadership for Lawyers is written by Mark Beese, the marketing director for Smith’s firm, Holland & Hart.

update (April 26, 2006) see our water-torture bathtub suit still afloat  bathtubG 
in the shower
an economy size bar of soap
lands on my toe
. . .. by Tom Clausen from Homework (Snapshot Press 2000)
meteor shower
a gentle wave
wets our sandals 
. .. by michael dylan welch,  HSA Henderson Contest; a glimpse of red:rma 2000   
from the shower
a sad love song –
bathtub cricket
the shower massage
finds her navel —
buddha smile


headful of suds
the shower
turns cold.

. . . . .. . . . .  . by  dagosan

the heron’s nest haiku mardi gras

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:54 pm

If you love to read or write haiku, Mardi Gras might be best celebrated

with a parade of some of the best haiku published in 2005.  Yesterday,

Feb. 27, 2006, The Heron’s Nest made that easy — it announced the

winners of its Readers’ Choice Awards Vol. VII  (2005).  There are two

categories, Best Poem and Most Popular Poet.  All those participating

in the poll agreed to read all of the poems published at THN in 2005.




tiny check  We at f/k/a are celebrating extra hard, as four of our Honored Guest

Poets were among the six winners — with Carolyn Hall topping both



Here are the contest results:



Best Poem Vol. VII (2005)


GRAND PRIZE (120 points)

so suddenly winter
baby teeth at the bottom
of the button jar

            — Carolyn Hall  Commentary



FIRST RUNNER-UP (94 points)

– Click to see Rick Tarquinio‘s haiku




SECOND RUNNER-UP (75 points)

the uneven edge
of a quahog shell

            — paul m. Commentary




THIRD RUNNER-UP (58 points)

– click to see David Lindsey‘s haiku


Popular Poets Vol. VII (2005)  “THNLogoF”



Carolyn Hall (5 of 7 poems received votes – total = 163 points)

– click to see each of Carolyn’s Vol. VII poems: 0701 EC#1,  0701 5#8,  



paul m. (6 of 7 poems received votes – total = 141 points)

– click to see each of paul’s Vol. VII poems 0701 1#10,  0701 7#5,  


Rick Tarquinio (4 of 6 poems received votes – total = 135 points)

-click to see each of RIck’s Vol. VII poems: 0701 9#9,  0702 EC#1,  

0702 3#90703 6#1,  0704 10#3,  0704 12#8

John Stevenson (8 of 8 poems received votes – total = 135 points)

– click to see each of John’s Vol. VII poems: 0701 11#4,  0701 7#1,  



Yu Chang  (4 of 4 poems received votes – total = 93 points)

– click to see each of Yu’s Vol. VII poems: 0703 7#1,  0703 7#7,  

0704 12#3,  0704 7#3.  (Being an engineer and a stickler for

precision, I bet the ever-humble Prof. Yu would point out that

a tie for Second makes him the Fourth Runner-Up.)


MGstuff  Celebrate Mardi Gras with a pair of poems from each of f/k/a‘s

Honored-Guest winners from Vol. VII of the Heron’s Nest:



the tulips
wide open 


rain-streaked windows
    how to paint
    the finch’s song






pull of the moon
I am not myself




fallen sycamore —
the chess players move
to another tree





daffodil shoots–

all these years

as an accountant




drifting seed fluff . . .

the rented horse

knows an hour’s worth







evening light
a loaf of bread
on the cutting board





fresh snow
for the hands,
for the face





MardiGrasN  There’s one big difference between The Heron’s Nest

Mardi Gras celebration and traditional ones: THN will still be feasting

on Ash Wednesday — with its first edition of 2006 (Vol. VIII). Check

it out on March 1st.


tiny check  By the way, in April, THN‘s first annual paper edition

will be published, containing all of the poems that

appeared online in 2005, plus the Reader’s Choice

Awards result.  It’s only $15.  Details here, in the left-

hand margin.


p.s. dagosan didn’t win any THN awards this year, but still felt like a

winner a year ago, when this poem appeared in Vol. VII: 1 — his

very first haiku in a haiku journal:


alone —
warm laundry


      david giacalone



LanoueSelf On Feb. 17, we wrote that New Orleans resident

David Lanoue planned to go all out this year celebrating Mardi

Gras post-Katrina.  We hope the good professor has a great

time and brings something more than a headache to his

creative writing class on March 1.



somebody’s little sister

     Bourbon Street





the city recovers
by restaurant


the city Care forgot
is drowning, Care





too much to read, too much to write

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:42 am

I may have to stop reading Blawg Review every week. No, it’s not

because of its cutesy title.  It’s far more practical: The darn “carnival”

of law-related weblogs keeps adding to my to-do list of things to read

— and then, naturally, of things to write — at a pace that can never be



computer weary


For example, Sean Sirrine hosted Blawg Review #46 at DeNovo this

week, and there are simply too many recent postings that sound inter-

esting and/or entertaining, not to mention the must-reads.  (Go, see for 

yourself.)  I used to hope that Blawg Review would introduce me to one

brand new weblog each week.  Now, to be honest, I hope it tempts me

to read no more than one or two postings each week. 


This week, I’m going to check out Bruce MacEwen’s look at 

BigLaw in 2015, at Adam Smith Esq. and follow the pointers

at David Jacobson’s Other Interests weblog, regarding the

lack of optimism among lawyers. (By the way, David surely

doesn’t have to worry about low-esteem — check out his

About page and “signature strengths.”)

carCoupeG However, I wish I hadn’t clicked on the AutoMuse

link at BR #46.  To save myself aggravation, I am going to refrain

from explaining antitrust law, competition policy, monopoly 

power, conspiracy theory and consumer choice and welfare,

to E.L. Eversman, who seems to be a little confused in a post on

weblog can educate old E.L. — including pointing out why the issues

raised are not really caused by the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s antitrust

exemption for the business of insurance.  This former antitrust lawyer

(who spent a lot of time trying to get rid of that exemption) just hasn’t

got the time or the energy.


Link Love?  No thanks.  Before leaving the topic of Blawg Review, I want to

respond to Sean Sirrine’s plea that we all start “giving out permanent links” to

eachother again.  Sean wants us to put more weblogs on Blog Rolls, when we see

a post that is well done.  He likens the process to tipping for good service. 


Sorry, it’s not for me.  Perhaps it was because Blog Rolls seemed so gimmicky

when I started weblogging (meant to create a clubby feel and to goose search engine

placement), but I have never had one and don’t plan to start.  As the number of law

weblogs multiplied, it became impractical to keep a list of every weblog that seemed

worth a look.  And, once a list is started, pruning out the deadwood becomes rather

touchy, and distinguishing between their quality and scope is impossible.


                                                                                                laptop in bed


Sean worries about law-oriented weblogs becoming static and “talking about the

same things,” but I still see lots of topics and choices — while wanting the best

weblogs to keep doing what they do best.  Perhaps, this gets back to my opening

theme at the top of this post: Who has time for reading ever-more weblogs?  When

do law students study?  When do lawyers practice law?  When do they have lives

away from their computers? 


There are many ways for those in search of new weblogs to find them.  Browsing

long and un-annotated blog rolls — created by bloggers who are promiscuous with 

their Link Love — seems like one of the least efficient ways to do so.   Taking a

look at the weekly Blawg Review is a pretty good place to start — but don’t feel

you have to “Read them all,” like Sean says.   You don’t have to catch every

fish in the sea.


 “MGStuff”  Brevity is one of the best things about haiku.  Here to

show you how to do it right is composer-professor-poet Hilary Tann:


on his daily walks

my father’s steps

shorter now



hotel room –


in reflections






queene anne’s lace

   the tiny

       dark heart














first date

she buys an extra

lottery ticket




above the embers


     and stars




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