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

I can’t find an attorney in the county where I live. What should I do?

I commonly practice in most of the counties touching either Phelps or Texas County, and over the years, I have had cases in every single one of the adjacent counties to Phelps or Texas County: Wright, Howell, Shannon, Dent, Douglas, Pulaski, Laclede, Maries, Gasconade, and Crawford.

I have recently announced opening a new center for my practice in Rolla, Missouri. I don’t have a partner, so it’s still just me operating from two locations, Rolla and Houston. If I currently represent you, or if you are looking for an attorney to represent you, what does this mean?

Well, if I represent you already, little changes. I may not be physically present in my Houston Office as many hours a week as I was before, thus making it harder to guarantee a walk-in meeting. Then again, everyone tells me I should be stricter on setting up appointments without walk-ins anyway. I am striving to better my accessibility through timely phone call returns, and I will continue to set up prompt in person meetings when you call to schedule.
If you are searching for an attorney, let’s start with the opening question: I can’t find an attorney in the county where I live. What should I do?

The biggest problem when it comes to locations and attorneys is actually based on state, not county. The majority of attorneys practice in one state only, so if you live in Missouri and someone drags you into a legal matter in another state, chances are, your favorite Missouri attorney won’t be of much help. I have helped some people find an attorney from another state to help them, but after that, I couldn’t do anything else on that particular issue. It is illegal for me to practice law in another state.

But if you have a case pending halfway across the state of Missouri, should you stick with an attorney local to you or local to the courthouse where the case is going to be tried? An attorney local to you might be someone you already know and trust. Also, he or she is a lot easier to meet to discuss the ins and outs of your case. It can be difficult to connect with an attorney whose office is three hours away. Chances are, most of your meetings with your lawyer will be right before going into court after you’ve driven a long way.

On the other hand, your local attorney is probably going to charge you for either or both his travel expense (a certain charge per mile driven) and his usual billable rate for all time spent on the road. A one hour court appearance with three hours of travel will turn into a four hour bill on your invoice. Ouch.

Another factor in favor of finding an attorney nearby the courthouse where your case is pending is that the attorney probably knows the peculiarities of the local judge better than an out of town attorney. This is often a helpful factor in your case.
One final reason sticking with a local attorney has proven comforting to many of my clients over the years is that finding a new attorney to represent you can be a daunting task. I should write a whole blog post just on this topic. So if you have an attorney you know, like, and trust, it can be worth all that travel expense to know that particularly attorney is on your side.

Here in rural Missouri there are other considerations that affect how many counties an attorney practices in.
In rural Missouri, some counties have so few attorneys you can count them all on one hand and maybe have a few free fingers when there are no more attorneys to count. You call these few options, and maybe you find (a) they already have a conflict of interest so they can’t represent you or (b) you just don’t click with them and don’t feel comfortable putting your important legal matter in their hands. For these and other reasons, it is very common for attorneys in rural south central Missourito represent clients in a handful of counties.

The Law Offices of Jaired B. Hall is centered in Rolla, Phelps County Missouri and has its physical office in Houston, Missouri. As a result, any case in Phelps County or Texas County will have no travel time and expense associated with any appearance in Court.

Additionally, I happily serve any county in Missouri. Realistically, this means that anything more than an hour away is probably going to be prohibitively expensive due to travel time and expense. But hey, if you want me to take your case in Hannibal, I’ll be happy to take it. Maybe I’ll squeeze in some time to visit Mark Twain’s birthplace (off the clock, of course).

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Posted in adoption, criminal defense, criminal law, divorce, update

Law Offices of Jaired B. Hall comes to Rolla

I haven’t officially opened and office in Rolla yet, but I am moving my practice to include a second primary location: Rolla, Phelps County, Missouri.

If you have a legal matter in Phelps County, Missouri, give us a call: 417.967.0066. We’ll set up a free consultation to see if I’m a good fit for your legal matter.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to drive down to Houston, and you don’t have to pay me travel fees to travel to Rolla. We’ll set up a place in Rolla to meet, and I’ll represent you in the Rolla Courthouse without any travel time or fees.

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Posted in adoption, criminal defense, criminal law, divorce, update

Don’t Panic! . . . Read.

2017 Reading – 1

Reading ranks as one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I do. I enjoy learning new things, so I read non fiction. I get a thrill out of good fiction, so I read fiction. And to be completely honest, I think I enjoy being able to mentally pat myself on the back for reading difficult things, so that’s an added benefit to much of what I read. For instance, last year, I read Dostoevsky’s Brother’s Karamazov. Actually, I finished that by a combination of reading and listening. It was a difficult read, yes, and I didn’t get out of it as much as I could or should have. But, oh yeah; I read it.

This year, I’ve set a goal of reading approximately 30 books at the rate of 30 pages a day. This doesn’t include any audiobooks I listen to. This includes reading a book during breaks at work and about three books at any given time at home: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction, and 1 of either with Tracy. The current book at work is Ron Paul’s Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom. I read a few chapters in 2016, but it’s high time I finished it, so it’s first on the list for completion this year.

At home, I’m starting to read several books on Russian History. Tracy and I are reading a biography of Catherine the Great together while I am reading a general, concise history of Russia. Several more Russian history books are lined up for after that. For fun, I’m reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I read most in 2016 and so am just wrapping it up. Several other fiction books will follow that. I’m dividing my reading fairly evenly between fiction and non-fiction.

30 books is a pretty ambitious goal for me. I keep myself pretty busy, so most years, I read less than 30. I’m only 5 days into the new year, but so far, I’m on track.

Wish me luck. More importantly, find some books that will help you expand your knowledge and horizons.

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Posted in education, Liberty, update

Happy New Year!

My blogging self must be convinced it’s only 2016. I cannot believe I have not blogged since June of 2016, but time-stamping technology is pretty basic, so I guess my last blog’s stated date is accurate, not my memory.

A lot has happened in the last year and a half as I sit here welcoming 2017.

 I hired a full time secretary shortly after my last blog post, but after a year she moved back to her home town north of Kansas City due to changes in her personal life. So at the moment, I’m operating with two part time helpers. You won’t see the second, my wife, around at the office. She operates behind the scene managing the accounting and invoicing and other office management work.

 The Law Offices of Jaired B. Hall, LLC had a great year. We have been extremely busy. The challenge for 2017 is to try to operate at an optimal level of busyness. This is because, as a business, it’s great to be busy, right? The more business the better, right? Not always, because on the other hand, as a professional helping people with very serious and important issues in their lives, I want to be sure to have the time and energy to devote to each person the care and attention he or she deserves. Each client comes to me and does three things (1) relies on me to help them with an important issues they are facing in their life, (2) tells me confidential information that they don’t tell just anyone, and (3) hands me their hard earned money. I take very seriously the trust that each of my clients places in me, and I strive to help them to the best of my abilities – diligently, professionally, and skillfully.

 The State of Missouri has had a lot of changes in its law. This month, many new criminal law changes go into effect. A few months ago, a new law came into effect that should (it’s hard to tell yet) make joint physical custody arrangements to be more common. Sparked by this new law, several appeals court cases have come out describing in detail how trial courts should determine how to enter modifications of old custody decrees. It is too early to tell yet if these new court decisions and laws will make much of a practical impact on the day to day family law decisions of judges here in south-central Missouri.

 We have a new president elect who takes office in just a few days. This orange haired guy named Donald Trump put his hat in the ring, and throughout the entire primary season, all the pundits said, “He’s a joke, and he can’t win.” I have to admit, on my personal Facebook page, I was pretty vocal with criticisms of Donald Trump. He proved all the pundits wrong. Then came the general election. All the pundits continued to say, “There’s no way he can beat Hillary Clinton.” Even the polls suggested his chances were small. Well, surprise, surprise, he won. I wish him and our Country all the best, and it will be interesting how the next four to eight years pan out.

 When I’m not wearing my attorney hat, I spend most of my time with my family. My six wonderful children are growing by leaps and bounds, and my wife is doing a great job homeschooling them. I also try to write and draw as much as possible. Writing, drawing, and reading are my three main hobbies. I actually did more drawing in 2016 than I have for several years. Unfortunately, 2016 was a bad year for writing.

One thing hasn’t changed. Our freedoms in the U.S. are still broad enough that it is our day to day choices that play the biggest role in determining our success in life. It’s a new year. Don’t let the mistakes of last year drag you down. Commit each day to making positive choices to move you in the right direction.

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Posted in criminal law, divorce, politics, update

Fundamentals of Liberty: The Non Aggression Principle and the Bible

Fundamentals of Liberty: The Non Aggression Principle and the Bible
Previous posts in this series:
(1) Introduction
(2) Government v. Private Sector Work
(3) The Non Aggression Principle

The Christian worldview is a belief system that provides structure and relevance to every area of a person’s life. The structure rests on a foundation comprised of God and the objective morality that is a part of God’s eternal natural. The Christian believes in God and this moral framework. Further, the Christian relies on the Bible as the revealed word of God to humans. Based on Christian (or biblical) views of morality and right living, we know that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; worship of false god’s is evil; things like pornography, abortion, prostitution, and drug addiction are self-destructive sins.

Where, in the Christian worldview, does the idea of liberty fit in? Is it important at all? The topic of this post addresses where, if at all, do we find the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) in the Bible. After all, aren’t Libertarians (Capital “L” Libertarians are members of the Libertarian Party in the United States) thought of as pro abortion, prostitution, legalization of drugs, etc.? If Libertarians are pro liberty, as their name suggests, then aren’t the Bible and liberty at odds?

In the current liberty movement are many atheists and non Christians. In fact, a tremendously influential writer and philosopher who has moved many towards the cause of liberty and the struggle against State overreach is Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a strident atheist. Not only did she believe adamantly that there was no God and no risen Christ, she believed that one of the ultimate evils in the world is people trying to be altruistic or self-sacrificing. To her, one of the (or maybe the) greatest good in the world is selfishness.

There are, in the Libertarian Party, many who argue that abortion is fine and should be legal. There are many in the Libertarian Party who go farther than just saying “prostitution should be legal” but think there’s nothing really wrong with it. Same for pornography, drug use, abortion, and other clearly immoral sins. Of course, for an atheist, with no transcendent God whose existence enables an objective moral basis to reality, there is little ground to argue that anything is good or bad. Good and evil have little meaning other than personal preference.

Where in all this mix do Liberty and Christianity meet? The easiest place to start is the Ten Commandments. I will limit my comments here to two, although more could be discussed at greater length: (a) Do not steal and (b) Do not murder.

Any cogent Christian philosophy recognizes the essential Oneness and Unchangeableness of God’s nature spanning from the Old Testament through to the New Testament. In other words, the moral principles found in the Old Testament remain just as fundamental to reality now after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as they did before. In other words, God’s word for humankind today still remains: (a) Do not steal and (b) Do not murder.

Do not take from another that which is his, and do not kill another person. Theft and murder are the primary acts of aggression. As defined in the previous post: Aggression is the initiation of force against another.

When we are told “do not steal” we are not being told “do not take a thing away from another person.” Instead, we are told “do not wrongfully take things from another.” You cannot take what is not yours away from another person and acquire it of yourself. That is theft. So if you aggress against me and take my watch, the command that I “do not steal” does not bar me from getting my watch back away from you. If you try to kill me, you are trying to murder me, and that is forbidden by the commandment. I am not murdering you if, in an effort to save my own life, I take yours.

In other words, the commands “Do not steal” and “Do not murder” encapsulate the Non Aggression Principle.

This is important because many Conservative Christian Republicans pooh-pooh the NAP. That’s just secular Libertarian mumbo-jumbo, they say. Not so. The pro-liberty movement may be filled with non-Christians, but Christians ought to be strong proponents of Liberty. Principles of liberty, particularly the centerpiece, the Non Aggression Principle, is actually a practical outworking and application of fundamental morality taught by the Bible in the ten commandments.

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Posted in education, God's Law, Liberty, politics