Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Or Words To That Effect

The piece below was brought to my attention by my paralegal, Glorialee. I believe it perfectly captures the spirit of the season. Its author is unknown.

Happy holidays to all.

An Attorney’s ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g., stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive sometime thereafter. The minor residents, i.e. the children, and issues of the aforementioned House, were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as “I”), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the second part (hereinafter “Mama”), and said Mama had retired for a sustained period of sleep. At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g., kerchief and cap.

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e., the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”) being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus. [See Exhibit A]

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co- conspirator named “Rudolph” may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute “gifts” to said minors pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as “lookouts.” Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” - or words to that effect.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Spanish Countryside

The city of Valencia disappeared behind me, replaced by the vibrant green of the Spanish countryside. I sat in the car’s passenger seat, wondering whether I had made a mistake in agreeing to the trip.

The year was 1997. I represented the owner of a famous trademark for towels and bedding in litigation involving the manufacture of counterfeit goods in Spain. I had traveled to Valencia to take the deposition of the Spanish manufacturer, whose plant and warehouse were situated outside the city. The deposition would begin the next day at the Melia Hotel, where my opposing counsel and I were both staying. On this day, I had agreed to travel with the manufacturer and his attorney to the plant to review documents and observe the operation.

We drove for more than an hour, the manufacturer behind the wheel, my opposing counsel directly behind me. We would occasionally comment on the beauty of our surroundings: a sea of green extending in all directions, with occasional villas visible on the horizon. Despite the soothing panorama, I could not relax. I stole occasional glances at the defendant behind the wheel and half-seriously wondered whether I would mysteriously disappear and never make it to the next day’s deposition.

We eventually reached our destination, a large, box-shaped building in the middle of nowhere. The manufacturer insisted that the lawsuit was a mistake, that he did not engage in the manufacture of counterfeit merchandise. He was short for words, however, when an employee inadvertently opened a door into a room that contained counterfeits of not just my client’s products, but of many other famous trademarks, as well.

After several hours of documents and explanations, the manufacturer drove us to an outdoor restaurant at an old hotel situated near the base of a medieval castle wall. The location was breathtaking and the food delicious. The conversation soon turned to the case, with the manufacturer again insisting, despite what we had seen at his plant, that he did not manufacture counterfeits. I responded that, while I appreciated his hospitality, I intended to come down hard on him. It was all very pleasant, but with an underlying feeling of unease.

I spent the next two days grilling the manufacturer and confronting him with the evidence of his activities. At the conclusion of the deposition, we sat down at a café in a medieval section of Valencia and spent several hours negotiating a settlement.

Two days later, I boarded a plane for Madrid, where I would catch my connecting flight back to Miami. The trip had proven successful – I had been able to negotiate a settlement very favorable for my client. Yet what I remember most about the case, and what keeps it fresh in my mind fifteen years later, are not the legal issues, the eventual settlement or even the personalities involved (many were quite flamboyant). Rather, the images that most vividly remain are those of medieval castle walls, ancient countryside hotels, and a long car ride into the Spanish countryside with the possibility of no return.