Categories
General

Christmas Safari

Ken Strongman Xmas 2014
Family Safari

A Christmas Safari is one of the few family traditions of the Christmas season I have consistently enjoyed. We really seldom go out into the wilds, it is usually the wild and crazy places in the City, though last year we came close.

It is a tradition from my youth. On a Saturday in December my family would travel into San Francisco for the day. We would shop but most likely never buy much of anything. My mother was proud of the fact that her Christmas shopping was done before Thanksgiving.

One of my earliest memories is of riding the Ferris wheel on top of the San Francisco Emporium. It was an adventure parking the car in a multi story garage, and then entering a massive store. It often took a while to find the escalators. As we rode each one up to the next floor they be came narrower and narrower. They also became much older based on their design. You could tell because the threads of the escalator became wider and made of wood. Finally at the top floor, we had to work around the Christmas stuff to find the door leading to the stairs to the roof. On the roof was a complete Santa’s Village with many different carnival rides. The Ferris wheel was at the edge of the building. It was impressive in that when you rotated to the top you could look down the side of the almost 10 story building. The building has long since been converted to the Westfield Mall and the Emporium no longer exists.

Next we would journey to see the City of Paris Christmas tree. Each year there was a new real tree installed in the rotunda of the department store. The decorations were different every year. There we spent time on each floor of the department store looking out on the rotunda checking out the tree. On the site of the City of Paris now sits Neiman Marcus. It is a new building, but because of historical preservation the rotunda remains. There is still a Christmas tree there each year, but it is now artificial with mostly the same decorations each and every year.

Leaving the City of Paris, the next annual pilgrimage was to Podesta Baldocchi Flowers. Normally, they were florists during the year. They were often used in Hollywood films as a traditional San Francisco location. The shop was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo. At Christmas, they turned their shop into a Christmas tree wonderland. Each tree was decorated with different beautiful and expensive ornaments. All were for sell. It was a wonder to behold.

Then it was time for food. We had one tradition for many years of having cheese blitzes at David’s Delicatessen. We never ventured into Chinatown or North Beach. Those were adventures for different seasons.

We also never did the Nutcracker. I could never figure out what that had to do with Christmas. Of course, both I and my brother are guys. I still can’t. I have three sons.

We still make the effort though most of the old adventures are gone. There are now new ones to take their place. Now the trip is by BART. Sometimes we take the ferry. We never take the car anymore. It is still fun.

Merry Christmas.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
Conflict Resolution General

Resolving the Turkey Conflict

Turkey Conflict
The Turkey Conflict

This is the time of the year for the turkey conflict. Thanksgiving is the day we Americans set aside to give thanks. It is most likely the only day when everyone makes an effort to enjoy a meal with their family. The day can be painful for anyone that does not have immediate family around or because of past family conflicts, being around is not practical.

For some reason, it is assumed that the meal will be turkey in some form or another. This is not the turkeys that wandered the woods near Pilgrims’ settlement. It is not even the turkeys that are infesting my neighborhood. One has taken up residence at the gas station that I frequent. While everyone is pumping gas, it is admiring itself in the reflections of the cars and trucks. No the turkeys we insist on eating are bred to be the high point of this one meal a year. That they are bred reduces them to the lowest common denominator of blandness.

Long ago, I developed a total dislike of this type of turkey. If I was to be psychoanalyzed, a connection to the corresponding family discord might be discovered. But being thankful that I am an American, I exercise my God given choice not to eat turkey without being psychoanalyzed.

My dislike started out in my youth. Only turkey was served for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Those dinners were rotated between my aunts in San Francisco and our house. There was intense competition between my mother and my aunts to find the most economical bird. In other words, they would look for the cheapest per pound bird and would go to great lengths to secure it. At one point the record was 29 cents per pound. Even in olden times that was extremely cheap. The taste matched the price – cheap.

One year, my mother, after considerable nagging by the family, invested in a Butterball turkey. That is the kind with the little read button that pops out when it is perfectly done. As was her habit, she put it in the oven before dawn. After the requisite number of hours, the little red button popped out right on queue. Unfortunately, the family was not due to arrive until 1 p.m. and it had reached perfection far faster that previous cheaper birds. Therefore she left it in the oven until noon. There is the dinner scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where everyone watches the dead bird shrivel and is still force to eat it – I’ve lived that.

After marriage, the “discussion” as to having or not having turkey resolved itself. My wonderful wife one year decided to have a big turkey feast with all of the fixings. She purchased a quality frozen 25 plus pound turkey. While readying it for defrosting, it fell out of its perch in the freeze and aimed for her big toe. The ‘pope’s nose’, followed by the other 24 pounds, hit its target with dead accuracy. We spend the entire evening in the emergency room. The toe was broken. Unable to barely stand let alone cook, the job of cooking the dead bird fell to me. Convinced, that was the last time we served Meleagris gallopavo aka dead bird.

I am thankful for a multitude of blessings. One is the privilege not to eat turkey if you don’t want to eat it. May you be thankful for all of your blessings this season and may you avoid the turkey conflict.

 

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Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General

Contra Costa Superior Court Volunteer Reception

Ken Strongman Volunteer appreciation 2013
superior court volunteer

 

The Contra Costa Superior Court held a reception to thank the hundreds of volunteers from the legal and professional community who contributed their time and talent to support the court.  I was one of the volunteers so honored.

The Presiding Judge, the Honorable Barry Goode said, “There have been so many setbacks as our budget has been cut over the past five years, we simply could not function as well as we do without you.  Your efforts as mediators, arbitrators, settlement mentors, temporary judges, discovery facilitators, docents, clerks and interns, CASA and clinic Volunteers have made all the difference.  We thank you on behalf of the parties with cases before the court, and the public whose access to their justice system you have supported.”

I’m proud to be associated with this large group who has given of their time and talents to improve access to justice.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General Mediation

Starlings v Blueberries – Last Friday’s ABA Representation in Mediation Competition

Berkeley Law Competition
Mediation Competition

Starlings v Blueberries – Last Friday’s ABA Representation in Mediation Competition

Last Friday I participated in the ABA Representation in Mediation Competition.  I was one of the judges of the competition.  It was a two day event held at Berkeley Law in Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley Campus.

As Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) becomes more integrated in courts and pre-trial procedure, it has been my experience that attorneys will have all of their cases referred to these processes. Therefore, it is important that attorneys adequately represent their clients in this ADR environment. The competition was designed to acquaint the law student with advocacy in mediation. The focus of this competition is on attorney representation of clients in mediation. Judging criteria are geared toward examining the effective combination and use of advocacy and collaborative problem-solving skills.

The judging criterion was designed to reward those participants who use an effective combination of advocacy skills and a problem-solving approach in the mediation. The problem solving approach is defined as one in which negotiators learn about each other’s interests and BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement), brainstorm options, and select and shape a solution that meets their interests and, where appropriate, objective standards. Participants were not expected to sacrifice their client’s interests in order to be collaborative.

The round that I judged consisted of a 75-minute mediation session involving a community dispute involving starlings and blueberries. At the close of the mediation session, there was a 10-minute period during which each team analyzed its performance in private, followed by a 20-minute self-analysis period (10 minutes per team) for each team to evaluate its own performance in the presence of the judges, but outside the other team’s presence.

I was impressed by the attorney advocates willingness to let their client talk.  They were confident in their own abilities to allow the opposition to ask direct questions of their clients.  This was refreshing.  One of my chief obstacles in mediation is the attorneys putting on shows for their clients benefit.  They forget that their clients will usually have to deal with each other long after the dispute is resolved.

The 1st place team in this competition automatically advanced to the National Competition.  There were teams from all over the west.   Some came as far away as North Dakota.  I will never know where any team came from.  It would have been a disqualifying breach of the rules to know the law school identity of a team.  Only if a team from the west wins the national competition will I have a hint that I was able to judge their abilities.

*         *       *

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General

Happy New Year – Again we’ve survived a bunch of apocalypses.

The Four Horse Men
The Four Horse Men

I had to look up the plural of apocalypse.  On Google one commentator questioned the need for the plural form.  If apocalypse is defined as the end of the world, how could you have several ends of the world?  Obviously this commentator has not been watching the news.

History is littered with doomsdays that have come and gone. The end of civilization seems to hold a morbid fascination for people, through a combination of grim excitement over how the end might come, and more individual thoughts of our own extinction.   We have even developed an end-of-the-world industrial complex, selling everything from tin cans and water purifiers to bunkers and mountaintop properties.  We also need to count the mass media as part of this industrial complex.  Watching the trailers for up coming movies, most are concerned with a post apocalyptic world.  Then there are all of the reporters that managed to get junkets to Guatemala to cover the Mayan end of the world.

Apparently this fascination is nothing new.  Here are some of my favorites from the last few years:

  • Population Bomb
  • Nuclear Winter
  • World War III
  • Ozone layer
  • Acid Rain
  • Swine and Bird flu
  • Ebola plague
  • Mayan apocalypse
  • Large asteroids
  • The end of the oil supply
  • Y2K computer bug
  • Large Hadron Collider (creating a black hole)

Wikipedia has a list of end-of-the-world predictions http://bit.ly/ZPnzOQ

Don’t worry we still global warming or the second coming of Christ which ever happens first.

But why do we have this the fascination?  Considering other times in the history of the world, we seem to be living in good times.  For individuals times might be tough but for most of us most of the time, life can be quite good.   We still have to continent with the Mack Truck principle (or Peterbilt if you prefer).  At any given time any one of us could get run over by a Mack Truck.  Therefore, I am going live to day as if it is my last but plan on living for quite some time.  To paraphrase the great line from Shawshank Redemption: I am going to get busy living and not worry about dying in one of the many predicted apocalypses.

Ken_Strongman_003smAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General

Why Christmas?

Why Christmas?
Why Christmas?

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate Deity.  We celebrate it on December 25th, not because it is his real birthday.  We celebrate it today the same way the British celebrate the Queen’s birthday in June and Mother’s Day is in May.  It’s a good day to do it.  Why our ancestors picked the dead of winter, I don’t know.  If you don’t like the dead of winter, move to Sidney.  It is summer there.   They even got the year wrong.  Jesus was some between four to six years old in the year one.

But since then no one associated with western or modern civilization has been able to avoid the question of who is Jesus? And what does the incarnation mean?  Even atheists deal with the question by denying the existence of the supernatural.

What does God Incarnate Deity mean?  Why does God apparently care so much for a funny species on a small planet?  Just some thoughts from our ancestors:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness …” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  God blessed them.  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

For we are God’s masterpiece, He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General Speaking & Training

Hunger Trials: They’re No Longer Games

hunger
The Judge as Effie in the Hunger Trials

Hunger Trials: They’re No Longer Games

It seems that attorneys can never turn the legal mind off even while watching a teenage move such as the Hunger Games.   Last week my American Inn of Court group used the Hunger Games as the basis for our continuing legal education presentation to the Inn.  We called it Hunger Trials: They’re No Longer Games.

Our case:  Judge Joyce Cram – Effie

Matthew Talbot – Peeta

Amy Foscalina – Katniss

Ken Strongman – Haymitch

Don Green – Caesar

Mike Markowitz – President Snow

Gamesmakers – Nancy Allard, Silky Sahnan, Daniel Cabral, Wally Hesseltine.

Judge Joyce Cram – Effie, Matthew Talbot – Peeta, Amy Foscalina – Katniss, Ken Strongman – Haymitch, Don Green – Caesar, Mike Markowitz – President Snow, Gamesmakers – Nancy Allard, Silky Sahnan, Daniel Cabral, Wally Hesseltine

After selecting tributes from all of the other groups, we let them battle to their death by asking the following questions.  Test your own knowledge.

During the movie, Katniss cuts a tree branch which drops Tracker Jackers onto a female from an opposing district.

Tracker Jackers are:

A) Ants

B) Beetles

C) Grasshoppers

D) Wasps

When Katniss dropped the Tracker Jackers onto the female from the opposing district, she committed what crime?

A) Assault

B) Assault with a deadly weapon

C) Murder

D) None

In the movie, Rue encouraged Katniss to drop the Tracker Jackers onto the female from the opposing district.  Rue is 13 years old.  Under common law she is:

A) Deemed to be an infant and therefore incapable of committing a crime.

B) Deemed to be an adult and capable of committing a crime.

C) Presumed incapable of committing a crime.

D) Presumed capable of committing a crime.

The minimum age of jurisdiction (youngest age at which a youth may be prosecuted) is:

A) 10

B) 9

C) 7

D) No minimum age.

If Rue (age 13) were called to testify in a trial against her, which of the following is true?

A) She is presumed competent to testify.

B) She is presumed incompetent to testify.

C) It depends on whether she is a civil or criminal defendant.

If Katniss is below the age of 18 when she wins the Hunger Games, what must be established to receive the money:

A) Conservatorship

B) Guardianship

C) Probate

D) Special Needs Trust

If the Hunger Games rules provide that the winner and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all receive money for their lifetimes, would that run afoul of the Rule Against Perpetuities?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Depends on how long each of these people live.

During the Hunger Games when Katniss was hiding in the trees, the Gamemakers created a fire and shot fire balls at her which burned her leg.  In California, what would the Gamemakers be charged with?

A) First degree arson

B) Second degree arson

C) Felony arson

D) Reckless burning

During Katniss’ private presentation with the Gamemakers, she shot an arrow at the apple in the pig’s mouth where all the Gamemakers were huddled.  What crime(s) could Katniss be charged with?

A) Attempted murder

B) Battery

C) Assault

D) None

Assume that the stunt with the arrow was planned in advance by Hamitch and Katniss.  What tort(s) can they be liable for?

A) Intentional infliction of emotional distress

B) Negligent infliction of emotional distress

C) Conspiracy

D) All of the above

Lionsgate (the producer of Hunger Games) could potentially be sued for copyright infringement by the producers of which movies?

A) Ben-Hur

B) Spartacus

C) Star Wars Episode One

D) Star Wars Episode Two

E) All the gladiator and ancient Rome movies ever made.

We followed up these questions by demonstrating closing argument as if the games went to both criminal and civil courts.

Ken_Strongman_003smAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General Mediation

Painful proposed cuts, but potential for more mediations.

Painful proposed cuts to the Courts, but potential for more mediations.

Painful proposed cuts to the Courts, but there are potential for more mediations.   Today I attended a presentation of the “Justice Partners of the Contra Costa Superior Court.”    The presenters were Judges Becton and Goode.  The painful topic was the potential impact of California’s budget cuts on the local Court.   They are painful, but give an opening for more mediations.

Over the last three fiscal years the Court has cut the budget by 7.5 million dollars.  Those cuts have themselves been painful.  The cuts the Contra Costa Court will have to make this year are another 7 million dollars.

It was stressed that the information we received are the proposed cuts.  Nothing has been finalized.  They are looking for constructive comments that would help clarify any unintended consequences.

The Contra Costa Superior Court normally handles in a year:

  • 10,000 criminal cases
  • 25,000 civil cases
  • 10,000 family law cases
  • 120,000 traffic cases
  • 2,150 juvenile cases
  • 1,300 probate cases

Some highlights of the proposed cuts are:

  • Close the Concord Courthouse
  • Close all courtrooms with commissioners
  • Close the discovery court
  • Move family law out from Pittsburg to Martinez
  • Reduce DCSS to a 80% calendar only
  • Move juvenile out Richmond and Pittsburg
  • Most if not all special courts will be eliminated
  • Night courts maybe eliminated

In developing these proposals, time constraints were carefully considered.  Both criminal and juvenile have short timelines.  Judge Goode pointed out that in California, the time limit for civil is five years.  Sounds like mediation will be a viable option for a lot of cases.

For those interested there will be a public presentation on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Department 17 in Martinez.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
General

Task #11: What’s wrong with the other side’s case?

Task #11: What’s wrong with the other side’s case?

The resolution of a dispute does not just occur on the day of the mediation.   Each participant to mediation needs to prepare their own strategy for negotiation in the settlement.  Based on my experience as a mediator, these are a collection of tasks each participant needs to complete and to discuss with their council and the mediator before the mediation.

These tasks and the discussion with the mediator are confidential.   They are confidential under both Attorney Client privilege and under mediation confidential provisions in court rules, statutes, and standards.

Task #11:  What’s wrong with the other side’s case?

Now is your attorney’s opportunity to turn the introspection of your own case on its ear.  You need to list everything that is wrong with your opponent’s case.   You need to review this confidentially with the mediator.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2013 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

 

Categories
General

My Purpose for blogging: Where to we go from here?

Where to we go from here?

My primary purpose for this blog is to inform practitioners and participants in mediation, negotiations, other forms of alternative dispute resolution and risk management.

I want to provide a mostly systematic overview of the full range of dispute resolution options: risk management or the avoidance and minimization of conflicts, negotiation, mediation, arbitration.  I also want to demonstrate how to effectively use each option for each situation.  From time to time, the blog will delve into issues involving legal ethics and social media.

I want to have a dialog with you on these issues and thereby helping all of us to improve our skills and knowledge.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.