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With all due respect?: Original sin

Every Issue

Cite as: (2005) 79(4) LIJ, p. 74

Originality is not always an easy thing to achieve. But US author Jon Hanson has had a good crack at it with his efforts to promote his new book Good Debt Bad Debt.

First, he made the headline-making grab: “Credit cards are the crack cocaine of the credit industry”. Then, inspired by the (unsuccessful) lawsuit suing McDonalds for allegedly making people fat, Mr Hanson illustrated his point by conjuring up a fictitious court case where a Californian couple sue MasterBank and “Satan” for making them “broke and ignorant”.

Joe Debtor and his wife Ima, both 37,

allege in their legal complaint that they were of average earning ability and intelligence before a steady flow of MasterBank’s irresistible credit card offers made them “ruin their lives”.

“After several years of promiscuous spending I became the broke and ignorant person I am today,” Mr Debtor said.

According to the complaint, the Debtors attempted on several occasions to quit “using” but were unable to do so. Their complaint alleges MasterBank would insert offers in the bills for other irresistible trinkets and baubles.

“All we wanted to do was open the bill and make our minimum payment but offers for CD storage racks and country music only compounded the problem. With timely minimum payments, in 33 short years we would have had them off our backs.”

The complaint further alleges Satan is head of MasterBank’s marketing department. And so on it goes . . .

A Queensland law firm also receives 10 points for effort and originality in relation to its online material, the “All you need to know about law series”.

When it arrived unsolicited via the Internet, WADR expected more of the somewhat dry promotional material that often accompanies such weighty topics.

But this one from Brennans Solicitors in Mooloolaba packed more punch with offerings such as: “Landlords are not very nice. Once you understand that they get a lot easier to deal with”.

On copyright it is suggested that: “If you are a twisted individual who likes to steer conversations towards subjects where only you have researched the answers then copyright is your chance to shine”.

Author Paul Brennan has obviously struck a chord with his audience. His online newsletter contains extracts from his weekly newspaper column which last month was accepted by a

syndication company. So far, feedback

has included a query from a Canadian

lawyer who wanted to know whether Mooloolaba really exists.

It is reassuring to be able to provide an update on the man who was arrested after telling a lawyer joke at a courthouse at Long Island.

He has had a disorderly conduct charge against him dismissed by a grand jury. Harvey Kash, 70, a founder of Americans for Legal Reform, argued he was exercising his First Amendment right when he shared a few lawyer jokes with a friend, according to the Associated Press. “It’s still legal in America to tell jokes – even about lawyers,” Kash’s lawyer said.

As you may recall, the offending joke was: “How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?”. Answer: “His lips are moving”.

Someone who is more than happy to be counted among lawyer ranks is new LIV Council member Carol Geyer, who comes to the profession after more than 20 years working as a physiotherapist. In her maiden speech to Council (see full text on page 78), Ms Geyer said her change of career had prompted much discussion.

“Since I commenced the study of law and especially since I commenced working as a lawyer, a number of people have commented on the vast difference they perceive between the law and physiotherapy,” she said in her speech. “It is my belief ...that they are not so different really. In both professions I am dealing with people for their good’s just that when you are a lawyer people leave their clothes on!”

WADR truly hopes that is the case.

Another point of much discussion has been the reading habits of the judiciary, following a comment by magistrate Robert Tuppen about a Herald Sun newspaper article on a high-profile case.

Mr Tuppen, unable to find a copy of the article in question, remarked: “I do not read the Herald Sun myself and I’ve been trying to find a magistrate who does”.

This caused much consternation and breast-beating at Herald Sun headquarters.

Describing itself as the “people’s paper” with 1.5 million readers, it hit back in an editorial, describing the remark as “not only disturbing but implies a possible lack of community understanding by someone who sits at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court”.


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