Helena, Ben, a couple of Ben's friends, and I went to MidSouth Con this weekend. It was very entertaining and relaxing. I attended several of the conferences, including "So You Want to Write a Screenplay?" [See the WHIP entry below], "Brave New Worlds" [a discussion of dystopian science fiction], "Things in Science We Don't Understand" [a panel of physicists, rocket scientists from NASA, etc discussed the things we don't yet know], and a few other ones. I attended some costuming and garbing sessions with Helena.
We got to see an excellent Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shadow cast from Memphis. They did a great job. It was probably the best shadow cast I've ever seen. The audience was great, too. They knew a lot of call-backs. Of course, that kept me up until close to 3:00 in the morning. I'm too damn old to stay up until 3:00 in the morning. I crashed the next night, missing the costume contest.
Also, we took very few pictures. I guessed there would be a lot of pictures on the web. Just use Google Images. As of last night, there weren't that many pictures, but I'm sure they'll surface.
I bought a few small-press books, as always. I enjoy reading those sometimes, although my time has been fairly limited and I haven't read nearly as much as I would like to. One that looked interesting was The Anthology from Hell: Humorous Stories from WAY Down Under. The editor was Julia Mandala. I've read a few of her other works.
I got a book on self-publishing. At one time when I was teaching at Pulaski Tech in the paralegal program I considered composing my own textbook for Appellate Advocacy. None of the books out there would fill the bill. Apparently you can self-publish on CreateSpace (Amazon) and print out fairly economical copies. It looks like you can print them out for five or ten bucks a piece if you do it right. I'll have to investigate further. Right now I barely have time to read the books I want to read. Is it realistic to expect I'll be able to write one? I can't even keep up with this blog?
_This is no longer the "First Immortal Generation" blog, but the has become the "Gerry gets his name in the news again" blog. The Arkansas News covered my oral argument before the Arkansas Supreme Court yesterday (Thursday, January 11, 2012). I had the privilege of representing Teresa Broussard in a challenge to a section of the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2003. The oral argument can be seen on the Arkansas Supreme Court's webpage.
Ms. Broussard was under the care of a nephrologist and a general surgeon. She entered the hospital for purposes of surgery. The surgery went on as planned, however Ms. Broussard was severely burned during surgery. We do not know how the burn occurred. Ms. Broussard originally hired another lawyer who investigated the case on the theory -- not unreasonable -- that something must have gone wrong in the operating room for a woman to come out of surgery with a severe burn on her chest. At some point after taking on the case, that lawyer retired and Ms. Broussard had to find another lawyer. By the time she came to us the case had already been filed and was pending before the court.
Ms. Broussard had found an expert witness, Dr. Terence Baker, Dr. Baker is board certified in many areas, including family medicine and forensics. Dr. Baker was not a specialist in the fields of nephrology or general surgery. After much investigation, we were unable to determine the cause of the fire. The best explanation, which isn't a very good one, is that she suffered an allergic reaction to betadine. The reason that explanation was not terribly satisfactory is that she had been exposed to betadine on numerous occasions without any reactions in the past.
Dr. Baker was more concerned with the care and treatment Ms. Broussard got after the surgery. Both the nephrologist and the surgeon saw her several times after the surgery. They recognized that they did not know what to do about burns. That is not terribly surprising. Burn care is not in the expected area of practice for a nephrologist, and even a general surgeon has only limited exposure to patients with burns. Dr. Baker's problem with the care Ms. Broussard received was that regardless of his specialty, if a doctor recognizes that something is outside of his field of expertise, he should immediately find someone with the proper expertise. This was particularly true given the severity of the burns reported by Ms. Broussard.
Ms. Broussard was released from the hospital but re-hospitalized a few days later. After being released from the hospital the second time Ms. Broussard called her nephrologist and basically told him that she was going to the burn center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With that, the nephrologist reluctantly granted her a referral.
At the burn center, it was determined that Ms. Broussard's burns were serious. She ultimately required extensive treatment. Dr. Baker testified that had Ms. Broussard been sent to the burn center when she should have been, the amount of treatment necessary and the amount of scarring that resulted would have been significantly reduced.
The nephrologist and the surgeon asked the trial judge to dismiss the case on summary judgment. Their argument was that Dr. Baker was not qualified under the Civil Justice Reform Act because he was not of the "same specialty" that they were.
Our response to that argument was that insofar as the tort reform act required a doctor to have the status of practicing in the same specialty as the defendant, it violated Amendment 80 to the Arkansas Constitution. Rules regarding pleading, practice, and procedure in court are delegated exclusively to the Arkansas Supreme Court under that amendment. The Arkansas Supreme Court had promulgated a rule for determining whether an expert witness should be allowed to testify in a civil case. The legislature's insertion of a requirement that that expert witness also show that he practices in the same field as the defendant was an unconstitutional infringement on the authority of the Supreme Court.
The trial judge rejected that argument and held that Dr. Baker would not be allowed to testify against the defendants. He granted summary judgment for the doctors. We appealed.
All branches of government in Arkansas -- judicial, legislative, and executive -- have a duty to follow the Arkansas Constitution. At the time the Civil Justice Reform Act was passed, many commentators told their representatives that some of the provisions of violated the Arkansas Constitution. The legislature felt otherwise, and passed the act.
Up to now several provisions of the act have been struck down as unconstitutional. See also Summerville v. Thrower. We feel that the Arkansas Supreme Court's decisions in those cases strongly supported our position.
The matter is now before the Arkansas Supreme Court. I had the privilege of arguing the case before the court, and now I've also had the privilege of getting my name in the paper once again. Whatever the result, I will post an update when the Supreme Court rules.
I ought to be doing things to plan for the end of the year and the beginning of the next year. Helena and I have traditionally sent out a "Christmas letter" to family and friends. This is a hard year for us to do it, because we lost Helena's mother in January. Marion had lived with us for nineteen years, since the death of Helena's father. I tried to put together a first draft of the letter over the weekend. It's going to be hard.
But there were a lot of other developments this year. Our son Christopher and his roommate Rob were victims of an apartment fire. Fortunately, they did not lose too much, as the fire was really in the apartment above theirs. They did have to stay with us for a couple of months until they could get a new place. Chris and Rob both work in the computer department at Dillard's Department Store (which, incidentally, would be a great place to do your Christmas shopping.
Ben graduated from Lisa Academy and started in the EIT program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He and some of his classmates went to Turkey last year for spring break.
We had the first visible snowfall of the season here last night. Thanks to Helena's insistence that we get the Christmas lights up early, our house was decorated for the season when we had the snowfall.
So now I have to devote myself to some of the end of the year projects I have in store.
I have been using this blog to record when I make the news. I was in the newspaper yesterday. The press covered a summary judgment hearing in the case of Cannady v. St. Vincent's Hospital et al. This is a very tragic case, but I can say I'm proud of my role in the case.
The Judge is going to review the file again after the arguments and promised a ruling within 10 days.
There is very little I would say about it that wasn't covered in the article or in my previous filings in the case.
Another case I'm involved in, the United Coalition of Reason v. Central Arkansas Transit also made the news yesterday, but not for anything the lawyers were doing. The bus ads have now started to run.
So I'm going to talk about Socrates Cafe. Helena and I went to Socrates Cafe tonight. It's a great outing. Socrates Cafe is a chance for us to engage in some amateur philosophizing. The gathering is held in a conference room at the Fletcher Library in Little Rock. It occurs on the last (or maybe the fourth) Wednesday of the month. People of all kinds of different backgrounds and perspectives gather to discuss a question.
Everyone can suggest a question. The moderator puts them all on the board. We then vote on which one to discuss. A successful Socrates Cafe occurs when someone walks in ten minutes late and can figure out which topic we chose. It can be a lot of fun, as it was tonight.
I recommend to anyone looking for something more intellectually stimulating than goofing off on the Internet to look into Socrates Cafe and see if there is one in your area.
The United Coalition of Reason won at the hearing yesterday. An Order will come from the Judge soon, and that will be far more reliable than any of the other sources.
There's a lot to talk about, and I'll talk about it. I'm going to use this webpage for its proper purpose. This webpage, again, is about me. There are other places in which we can talk about the implications of this victory, but as far as I'm concerned, here's how I feel about it.
I'm always interested in how my name gets spelled. I was called Garry Schulze, J.G. Schultz, and even on one newscast Leawood Thomas (which is funny as they managed to misspell LEEWOOD'S name as well as assign it to an old fat guy).
My quip about local believers hijacking an airplane and flying it into a CATA bus being unlikely made it into at least one story.
We won a great victory yesterday, not just for ourselves but for everyone. That is the nature of civil rights cases. Ultimately they end up not being about the plaintiff but about society at large. We have both faith and knowledge that freedom of expression is good not only for the speaker but for the hearer as well.
America became the great nation that it is because from our founding we have valued the free marketplace of ideas. The remedy for speech we don't like is not suppression, but more speech.
Does the free marketplace of ideas guarantee that the right ideas will prevail? Of course not. But no other method has anything close to our track record of finding out the truth. Truth may not always win a fair fight, but it is the safest bet.
The evidence we put forth showed that we were discriminated against because of the content of our message. But we were not the only victim of discrimination. The underlying basis of the justification for discrimination against our message was the assumption that Christians would respond to our message with vandalism and violence. This attitude is insulting and demeaning to people of faith. Non believers have been active in this community for some time. And though we have been victims of discrimination and prejudice, and we are frequently reminded that we're going to hell, Christians have not responded to us with violence or terror. The Arkansas version of Christianity is law-abiding and bears in mind that the namesake of their faith admonished his followers to put away their swords and turn the other cheek. A Christian has threatened to protest the buses and to start a Christian advertising campaign. That is much more consistent with both his religion's traditions and our founding fathers' confidence in the value of free speech. We have never asked that the voices of others be silenced.
I'm very proud of what we have done--not only for nonbelievers but for believers as well.
I don't really practice law so I can get my name in the paper. I practice law to represent clients. I have the privilege of representing the United Coalition for Reason (UnitedCoR) in a case that we--unfortunately--had to file here in Little Rock. My client was denied the right to advertise on Central Arkansas Transit buses through the means of imposing a series of unreasonable conditions on our purchase of the advertisement. I'll ask you to simply rely on the pleadings and the evidence, which have now been made available in numerous places on the Internet, to decide for yourself if our position has merit. This blog is not supposed to be about my cases. It's supposed to be about me. In the right forum--the Courts--and at the right time--I'm proud to stand up for our position.
I did get the privilege of appearing on a couple of television stations, and having my name published in a few additional newspapers. I was on KATV and KTHV and my name appeared in some of the newspaper articles as well.
This is just the beginning of the lawsuit. The Central Arkansas Transit Authority and its agent, On the Move Advertising, have 21 days from service of the Complaint on them to file their answer.
P.S. I'm having some problems making the links work, so I'm dropping them in here below.
Arkansas Times Blog http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2011/06/01/atheists-sue-over-refusal-of-bus-ad
Arkansas Times Blog again http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2011/06/02/bus-company-baloney
The Sun Times newspaper article: http://www.thesuntimes.com/newsnow/x724664776/Atheists-Sue-Little-Rock-s-Transit-Authority-for-Rejecting-Godless-Bus-Ads
Arkansas Matters: http://arkansasmatters.com/fulltext/?nxd_id=429327
J.G. "Gerry" Schulze is an amateur linguist who practices law for a living. For more information see his webpage, which has links to some of his other online activities.