It's all about me. I ran into a number of people over at the Justice Center this week who asked, "How was Vegas?" My inevitable answer: "Well, I came back, didn't I?"
There are a lot of people who really like Las Vegas. I'm not that into it. My Lovely Bride and I have been there maybe six times total, and I'm not sure we'll be going back. As I said before, I'm not the gambling type. The novelty of the town is an attraction, I'll admit; it's a uniquely American experience. I remember going to a pizza/sports bar we'd eaten at before and not being able to get in because they were filming an episode of a reality show there. The irony of doing a "reality show" in a city which has hotels featuring faux Eifel Towers, New York skylines, and Egyptian pyramids was apparently lost on somebody.
One thing we always do when we go there is take a day trip to one of the parks around there. This year we did Death Valley, which is about a two-hour trek away. It's not for everybody, I suppose; a couple of the guys in my office go to Vegas at least five or six times a year, and when I mentioned to one of them the idea of venturing outside the city -- hell, off the strip -- to take in some of the natural beauty the area afforded, he looked at me as if I'd suggested he thrust red-hot knitting needles into his eye sockets.
But Death Valley was cool. As anybody who's ever seen me can attest, I'm not exactly a nature freak; one of my abiding principles has always been that if God had intended for me to go camping, he wouldn't have invented flush toilets.
But when you stand on a road in the middle of the desert, and there's not another human being within miles, it gives you a different, and interesting, perspective on life.
Still, when I took this shot, I told my wife to watch for cars just in case.
Long arm of the law. Well, this is certainly must-see TV. About 45 seconds into this video of a sentencing hearing, while the defense lawyer is at the podium, one of the deputies walks over to the defense table, spends about half a minute leafing through the attorney's file, then pulls a piece of paper out of it, calls another deputy over, and gives it to him.
Unreality No. 1 is that the deputy is not in the least discreet about this. Unreality No. 2, which flows from Unreality No. 1, is that this is done in the plain sight of the judge and the prosecutors, and they totally ignore it. Heat City was the one that broke the story, while Radley Balko, Simple Justice, and Defending People have their takes on it.
New employment opportunities for lawyers. Back in 2004, tort-reform advocates put the enticingly-named Keep Our Doctors in Nevada on the ballot, and the state's voters overwhelmingly approved it. In addition to putting a cap on non-economic damages, the law also limited contingent fees for lawyers handling medical malpractice cases: 40% of the first $50,000, a third of the next $50,000, 25% of the next $500,000, and 15% of everything over $600,000. In 1999, Las Vegas lawyer Robert Vannah signed up Kathleen Johnson-Dinsmore, who had been injected with an overdose of fentanyl by her anesthesiologist during surgery. After spending $172,000 of his own money on the case, in 2006 Vannah won a $5.75 million judgment for his client.
Who promptly turned around and sued him, claiming that the referendum approved two years earlier was retroactive, and thus entitled Vannah to $800,000 instead of the $2.3 million the fee agreement called for. The case is now before a panel of the Nevada Supreme Court.
Vannah no longer takes medical malpractice cases.