January 18, 2018

Archives for April 16, 2014

The Practice of Life (Part 3): Taking Back Control

rhodesOne thing lawyers are up against in the Happiness Derby is that things can look good on the outside even if we’re dying on the inside. Being a lawyer is prestigious, and looking good doing it maintains not just our professional status but the status quo our brains love so much.

We’ll give up a lot to maintain status and status quo – even our happiness. Trouble is, when we sacrifice our happiness, we lose our edge, which leads to diminished performance, which impedes success. Too much of that, and one day we find ourselves in the state of “learned helplessness” we talked about last time.

Once we’re there, it’s easy to start pointing fingers – at colleagues, staff, clients, law firms, law schools, the judicial system….  We get a perverse short-term benefit from blame-shifting – we don’t have to take the hit for what’s bugging us – but it isn’t worth the long-term cost to our happiness. Blaming others gives them power over our work performance and our personal wellbeing:  they have to change before we can be happy, and we could be waiting a long time.

Instead of thinking, “The practice of law is making me unhappy,” how about if instead we think, “I am an unhappy person.” That may be unpleasant to admit, but at least now we’ve got our control back. We can’t control the externals, but we can do something about the person looking back at us from the mirror. (Anybody else’s brain just cue up Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”? Just asking….)

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Positive Psychologist Shawn Achor describes the importance of this shift from external to internal focus:

[T]he most successful people, in work and in life, are those who have what psychologists call an “internal locus of control,” the belief that their actions have a direct effect on their outcomes. People with an external locus, on the other hand, are more likely to see daily events as dictated by external forces.

One of the biggest drivers of success is the belief that our behavior matters, that we have control over our future.

Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance.

Interestingly, psychologists have found that … gains in productivity, happiness, and health have less to do with how much control we actually have and more with how much control we think we have.

After all, if we believe nothing we do matters, we fall prey to the insidious grip of learned helplessness…

Too many unhappy lawyers get all the way to learned helplessness by keeping up appearances. The way back starts with admitting it’s up to get our mojo back.

We’ll talk about practical steps for regaining control next time.

Kevin Rhodes is a lawyer in private practice and a registered mentor with the Colorado Supreme Court’s CAMP program. He offers career coaching for lawyers and leads workshops for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Solo and Small Firm Section and the Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. You can email Kevin at kevin@rhodeslaw.com.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 4/17/2014

On Thursday, April 17, 2014, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and 32 unpublished opinions.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/16/2014

On Wednesday, April 16, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

United States v. Ortiz

Wilson v. Prior

Dopp v. Jones

United States v. Knittel

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

SB 14-178: Defining “Drug-Endangered Child” for Purposes of Child Abuse or Neglect in the Criminal Code

On April 1, 2014, Sen. Andy Kerr introduced SB 14-178 – Concerning the Definition of a Drug-Endangered Child for Purposes of Cases of Child Abuse or Neglect in the Criminal Code. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill establishes a definition, as formulated by the state substance abuse trend and response task force, for a ”drug-endangered child” for purposes of cases of child abuse or neglect in the criminal code. The bill creates the crime of child abuse for a person who is responsible for creating a situation or unreasonably permitting a child to be placed in a situation in which a child is drug-endangered and establishes penalties.

On April 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony and delayed action on the bill for a later date.

Since this summary, the Senate Judiciary Committee referred the bill, amended, to the Senate Committee of the Whole.

SB 14-177: Defining “Drug-Endangered Child” for Purposes of Child Abuse or Neglect in the Children’s Code

On April 1, 2014, Sen. Andy Kerr introduced SB 14-177 – Concerning the Definition of a Drug-Endangered Child for Purposes of Cases of Child Abuse or Neglect in the Children’s Code. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill establishes a definition for a “drug-endangered child” for purposes of cases of child abuse or neglect in the children’s code.

On April 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony and delayed action on the bill for a later date.

Since this summary, the Senate Judiciary Committee referred the bill, amended, to the Senate Committee of the Whole.

HB 14-1312: Extending the Foreclosure Deferment Program Until September 1, 2015

On March 10, 2014, Rep. Angela Williams and Sen. Jessie Ulibarri introduced HB 14-1312 – Concerning Efforts to Reduce the Number of Foreclosures in Colorado and, in Connection Therewith, Continuing the Foreclosure Deferment Program. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill continues the existing foreclosure deferment program, which is scheduled to expire in 2014, until 2015.

The bill passed out of the House on March 15. The bill has moved through the Senate having passed the Judiciary Committee on April 7 and the full Senate on 2nd Reading on April 10.

Since this summary, the bill passed both 2nd and 3rd Reading in the Senate with no amendments.

HB 14-1303: Allowing Legislative Committees to Take Remote Testimony Using Conferencing Technology

On March 4, 2014, Reps. Ray Scott & Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Gail Schwartz introduced HB 14-1303 – Concerning the Receipt of Public Testimony from Remote Locations Around the State by Legislative Committees, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill vests the executive committee of the legislative council with the power and duty to consider, recommend, and establish policies regarding legislative committees taking public testimony from remote locations around the state.

The bill has been approved by the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs and Appropriations Committees; the bill is now before the full House for consideration on 2nd Reading.

Since this summary, the bill passed 2nd Reading in the House with amendments, passed 3rd Reading unamended, and was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.

Joshua Blake Lehman Appointed to Bench of Larimer County Court

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, Governor Hickenlooper announced his appointment of Joshua Blake Lehman to the county court bench in Larimer County. Lehman will fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Hon. Robert Rand, effective immediately.

Prior to his appointment, Lehman was a Deputy District Attorney for the Eighth Judicial District, where his practice consisted entirely of criminal law with a focus on adult felony-level crimes. Prior to that, he was an associate at John P. DiFalco & Associates, where he practiced employment law. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wyoming and his J.D. from the Wyoming College of Law.

Three Applicants for Judicial Vacancy on San Juan County Court

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced that three people have applied for a vacancy on the San Juan County Court, created by the retirement of Hon. Lyndon K. Skinner. The Sixth Judicial District Nominating Commission Rules of Procedure require disclosure of all applicants for judicial vacancies. The names of the three candidates are Anthony D. Edwards, William P. Gardner III and Melodee A. Horton, all of Silverton.

Public comments regarding any of the applicants are invited, and may be emailed to judicial.vacancies@judicial.state.co.us or directed to any member of the Sixth Judicial District Nominating Commission. Contact information for members of the nominating commission is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Avoidance of Transfer to Bank Would Restore Bank’s Lien on Estate as Fully Secured Creditor

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in C.W. Mining Co. v. Bank of Utah.

In this bankruptcy matter, the Chapter 7 Trustee filed a complaint with the bankruptcy court seeking to recover a post-petition transfer to the Bank of Utah. C.W. Mining had deposited $362,000 with the bank in exchange for a certificate of deposit. C.W. Mining then was subject to an involuntary Chapter 11 proceeding, which was converted to a Chapter 7 proceeding. The bank then liquidated the certificate of deposit, which had a value of $383,099. The bank applied the proceeds to the balance owing on two of three promissory notes executed by C.W. Mining in favor of the Bank in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Although the bank knew of the bankruptcy proceeding, it did not inform the trustee, who learned of the transfer when the bank sold its rights on the third promissory note to a third-party seller and the seller sought recovery from the estate. The trustee commenced an adversary proceeding to recover $383,099 from the bank and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The bankruptcy court awarded summary judgment to the bank, reasoning that avoidance would be pointless because a transfer to a fully secured creditor cannot be avoided under 11 U.S.C. § 549 without also reviving the secured creditor’s lien. The trustee failed to allege any injury from the bank’s transfer.

The trustee appealed to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, which affirmed the bankruptcy court’s judgment. He appealed again to the Tenth Circuit, but the Tenth Circuit affirmed the BAP, finding that the bankruptcy court’s decision was thorough, well-reasoned, and correct.

Tenth Circuit: Fourth Amendment Does Not Require Abandonment of Common Sense

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Romero on Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

Defendant Romero was convicted by a jury of assaulting and killing Naayaitch Friday. He appealed the district court’s refusal to suppress evidence found after searches of the car he drove and his bedroom, claiming that the warrant to search the car was based on an affidavit lacking a substantial basis for probable cause, and that his stepfather did not have authority to consent to the search of his bedroom.

The Tenth Circuit noted that the supporting affidavit for the search of the car contained ample reason to believe a search would uncover evidence, stating “[t]he Fourth Amendment does not require the abandonment of common sense. The officers would have been derelict in their duties had they not sought to search the [car].” The Tenth Circuit also affirmed the trial court’s allowance of evidence recovered from the search of Defendant’s bedroom, finding that under Tenth Circuit precedent, when a child lives with his or her parent, there is a presumption that the parent retains control for most purposes over the property. Since Defendant lived with his parents and there was nothing to rebut the presumption of parental control of the property, his stepfather’s consent to the search of his bedroom was sufficient.

The judgment of the trial court was affirmed.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/15/2014

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued four published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Fuentes-Chavarria v. Holder

Williams v. Weber County

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.