Chronicles of Barsetshire

Anthony Trollope, 1815-1882 (a contemporary of Charles Dickens, 1812 to 1870) was a prolific English novelist. This year, I’ve listened to the first three novels of his six novel series, the Barsetshire Chronicles, his most well known works.

While the six books are all loosely connected, involving the fictitious county Barsetshire, the first two are very tightly connected and are essentially the same continuous story. These first two have been turned into a six hour mini series in 1982, and the third book (an unrelated story, but for its fictional time and place setting) Doctor Thorne was turned into a 2016 tv series. There are very few cross references of people and events from the first two stories to the third.

All three were excellently narrated by volunteers on The first two by Nick Whitley (reads a tad slowly, but you can listen at a faster speed) (he is in the process of narrating Doctor Thorne, it appears).

Doctor Thorne is read by Nicholas Clifford.

Regarding the narration—Nick Whitley I’m sure will do a fantastic job with Doctor Thorne. At first, listening to the third book by someone else was a bit jarring, but I quickly came to appreciate the effect of the different voice. Rather than becoming accustomed to one voice for all things Trollope—as if it was the author himself reading—I was able to feel a difference in the very different stories in the very voices reading the story.

Clifford’s voice and the personality behind it, dictating the various voices of the characters of the story, could very easily be the voice and personality of the hero, Dr. Thorne himself. It is a clear, mellow voice, not given to dramatic exuberance, and perhaps somewhat proud of its clarity and fluency.

Whitley, on the other hand, has a calm, intellectual, English voice and accent, slow, sonorous, and also happy to erupt in the bellow of Dr. Grantly’s righteous anger and brilliant in a perfect interpretation of good old Mr. Harding. It is a perfect voice for two novels concerning themselves primarily with the internecine church conflicts among the many prelates, deacons, prebendaries, etc., of the Church of England in 19th century Barsetshire.

Doctor Thorne, on the other hand, has very little to do with the church and its servants. It is much closer akin to a Jane Austen romance with its stuck up aristocracy looking down its collective nose at doctors and attorneys, dashing young men falling in love with the right ladies while seriously flawed family members are trying to get them suitably rich and well-bred brides.

Attorneys play important but not particularly extensive vital or dramatic roles in all three stories. They are not excoriated in any vicious manner, yet Trollope does pike quite a bit of fun at them. He is definitely a master at intertwining clever whit throughout his books.

Of the three, the first, The Warden, was rather dull with an extremely simplistic storyline. It served nearly as a prelude to the second, Barchester Towers which continued the story and added a good bit more interest and complexity. Read together, these two are a good and worthwhile read. Doctor Thorne is also a good read – worth a pleasant read or, as I did, a listen.

Posted in Book Review

Complications of Child Support – Ask Rolla Attorney, Houston Attorney

You have one or more children, but you and your co-parent have separated.

Even in many 50/50 custody arrangements, one of the parties is probably going to pay child support.

Child support can be a tricky subject. It can be set by a court. It can be set by the Family Support Division – Missouri Division of Social Services.

It’s supposed to be based on any and all relevant factors, but unless you have substantial evidence to justify a more personalized number, the most likely support amount will be based on the Form 14.

The Form 14 looks relatively simply, just a 1 page form, right? How hard can that be? And then you see it’s got 14 pages, an appropriate number, of “comments” to explain how to fill out the one page form. And then there’s this fun table showing you how much it costs to support a child based on the combined income of the two parties.

It is particularly difficult to navigate this issue when you are self employed. Suddenly, the “gross income” needed to fill out the Form 14 is a lot more complicated. You can’t just look at a paystub and, voila! there’s your number.

If you live in Rolla, or anywhere in Phelps County, or Houston, or anywhere in Texas County, please call me at 417.967.0066 or email me to discuss your child support issue. I will walk you through the knotty complications of Missouri child support, whether you are the one who will be paying or the one who needs help raising your child.

Call your local child support attorney today.

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Posted in divorce, Uncategorized

Gresham King of Torts – Houston, Mo. Attorney Book Review

I’d say I’m a book collector, but maybe a book hoarder would be more accurate. I picked up John Gresham’s The King of Torts (2003) for $1 at the Houston, Mo. Library. They’ve always got the front entryway piled high with books for sale. I don’t typically get my “light, fun reading” from the latest, greatest New York Times best seller. Something 15 years old is fine.

True to Gresham Form, The King of Torts is a fast, easy, exciting read with characters about as shallow as cardboard cutouts. Clay Carter emerges on the scene, a burned out public defender suddenly given a bizarre, completely unbelievable opportunity making millions as a mass tort attorney.

I don’t do mass torts (massive class action lawsuits, such as, in this book, against pharmaceutical companies that have marketed harmful products), so I don’t know whether there’s an ounce, a pound, or maybe a fraction of an ounce in how Gresham lampoons the greedy, unethical, materialistic, and wasteful mass tort segment of the law profession. In any event, the book portrays Clay as sucked into the vortex of unethical, money grabbing mass torts, rising to fame and just as quickly crashing and burning.

And of course, when he crashes and burns, he gets back with the girl he’s always loved, marries, and moves on with life presumably to “live happily ever after.” Of course, as a ready, you find yourself neither interested in Clay’s past nor his future. You had fun with the colorful cardboard figures as they performed across the pages for you, and that’s about it.

Here are some take away messages if you feel like pausing long enough to apply a thriller’s take away messages to your life: first, don’t sell your soul for wealth and power; second, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true, and there’s some nefarious, harmful, ugly underbelly to the situation that will get you in the end; and third, even if you succeeded (with all those disgusting, wealthy, slovenly folk who didn’t crash and burn) would you really like to be one of them anyway?

king of torts

Posted in Book Review

Courthouse Wednesday Continues

A new year is upon us.

Due to operating out of Rolla and Houston, I will not be as available for walk-ins as I was in the past, so please call ahead at 417.967.0066 and schedule an appointment by phone, whether you are a current or prospective client.

Someone should always be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 4:30, but it’ll be fairly hit or miss on the other days, so call ahead.

If you are not following me on Facebook, now’s a good chance to do that:

Since November, I’ve been posting a picture of a beautiful or interesting or historic courthouse on my Facebook page each Wednesday.

Here is an interesting and beautiful modern Federal courthouse in Springfield Massachusetts which combines classical architectural features with a very modern flair.

US courthouse, springfield, mass (Jan 24)

A few other items of note:

1) As usual, I hit the books (reading) at a good rate. I usually am in the mood to read a lot in January, but I peter off late in the year. I don’t make new years resolutions, but I do make myself a reading schedule and a book list. My book list evolves throughout the year. I am “ahead of schedule” for 2018 so far. But I only got about half-way through my 2017 list.

2) I am working on some short children’s stories. I hope to have a collection together to give to my daughter Charlotte who turns 5 in February. This isn’t something I plan to publish, but is a fairly quick project that I think Charlotte and her siblings will enjoy.

3) I didn’t make any formal new years resolutions this year, but besides reading a lot, I tend to focus a little better on fitness in the early part of each year. This year, I’m trying again to establish a schedule and regularity in exercising, with the goal of being more fit and more healthy than ever. A healthy body, by the way, helps one’s mind stay healthy and clear, and a healthy, clear mind is a good trait for an attorney.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Great Family Law Blog

is the best family law blog I have ever come across in my searches over the years for law related blogs and websites. Every now and again, when I’m interested in looking up a law blog, this is one of the first places I look. Many bloggers come and go. I sometimes let my own blog languish for several months without new content, and many blogs, that once were active, die, and you go to check on them only to find there hasn’t been a post in years.

True to form, Mr. Wortman’s blog seems to have fairly recent posts every time I look for it, and the posts are typically informative and useful, both from the standpoint of a practitioner and a non-practitioner interested in a family-law topic because of what he or she is going through. I have seen fairly lengthy gaps (well over a month), but I have been going back to this blog on occasion for several years.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Review in Reading

2017 Reading – 2

On January 12, 2017, I posted about reading. It was my “2017 Reading – 1” post. And why did I label it like that? Because I was going to do several “Reading” posts in 2017.

Silly me. Here we are ten months later, the year 2017 nearly in the books, and I’m just now getting round to a second Reading post.

It appears that I will not reach 30 books for the year, but I have completed 14. I think 20 is definitely attainable, while 30 is probably unrealistic. This 13 includes 4-5 audio books.

I read a few pretty lengthy history books (two biographies of Catherine the Great (18th century Empress of Russia), a book about Russia against Napoleon (19th century), and an account of the 1917 Communist Russian Revolution), which definitely bogs the process down. Maybe I’ll knock out some easy novels to fluff things up a bit in the last few weeks of the year.

Massie C the Great Cover

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Posted in Uncategorized, update

Dread Pirate Roberts

I recently came across a fascinating criminal law case about a man who started an Internet black market a few years ago where drug sales thrived.

It’s kind of like the Silk Road was the of illegal sales. This includes, by the way, not just drugs, but things like raw milk. Of course, Mr. Ulbricht wasn’t sentenced to 2 life sentences because raw milk was sold on the Silk Road.

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Posted in appeals, Constitutional Law, criminal defense, criminal law, Liberty, politics

Dent County Courthouse

Welcome to Courthouse Wednesday.

Dent County got its first courthouse in 1852. Arsons burned the little building a mere 12 years later. In 1870, the current building was built, and it has stood to grace downtown Salem ever since.

Dent County Courthouse 1

Posted in Uncategorized

An Important Resource

Missouri Statutes

Statutes are hard to read, but sometimes they’re legible.

As far as I know, every Missouri Statute can be found at the link above, and I believe they keep it fairly up to date. I use this resource frequently in my practice.

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Posted in education

Free to Farm in Missouri

Sometimes you get more than what you ask for. After a hearing before the Missouri Supreme Court (tomorrow), we’ll find out if that’s the case with the Missouri Constitution’s Right to Farm Amendment and a unique argument that this legalizes the “farming” of marijuana plants.

Maybe you’re like me: while you love getting to eat three or so times a day, you didn’t know our Constitution had a Right to Farm Amendment. I sure didn’t know. Funny that we need an amendment to confirm such a basic liberty. If you’re not free grow food, in what sense are you free? Sorry, I don’t want to get derailed; that’s a topic for another post.

Back to marijuana. Mark Shanklin argues on November 7 before the Missouri Supreme Court that the Missouri Constitution now invalidates all other lesser Missouri laws making it illegal to grow marijuana.

The basic argument is easy to understand: If a higher level law (say our State’s own constitution) says something that a lower level law contradicts, the lower level law’s contradictory application is invalidated.

If the constitution says wearing red hats is just fine, then a criminal statute criminalizing the wearing of red hats is invalid. Easy, right?

I don’t have time now to delve into the technicalities of the arguments made, but the two levels of lower courts in Shanklin’s case (trial level and court of appeals) have disagreed with him. And no wonder. Marijuana cultivation has been considered illegal for quite a while now, so if you believe in an “original meaning” approach to legal interpretation, I don’t see how you say “farming/agricultural/ranching” includes activity clearly understood to be illegal during the era of the passing of the amendment. You don’t get go back to the pre-drug-war era and decide the meaning of words then. In an absolute sense, growing marijuana could be seen as “farming” except that the very possession of a marijuana plant in Missouri is illegal. If the product you are “farming” becomes illegal to possess the instant the “farming” operation ends and some other operation begins, then it’s hard to argue the constitutional amendment applies to farming that particular product.

Well, the Supreme Court hears the argument tomorrow, but I doubt we’ll get a decision for several weeks or even months.

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Posted in appeals, Constitutional Law, criminal defense, criminal law, Liberty, politics, Uncategorized