JEROME Ersland has fired his lawyer. The lawyers for George Zimmerman have fired their client. When does a lawyer go through a divorce even if he's never been married? When he breaks up with a client or a client breaks up with the lawyer.
Ersland is the pharmacist appealing his first-degree murder conviction for killing a man attempting to rob the Oklahoma City drug store where Ersland worked. Zimmerman is the neighborhood watch volunteer accused of killing Trayvon Martin in Florida. Ersland says he's done with Irven Box, the man who took Ersland through the trial and months of pre-trial work. Zimmerman, charged this week with second-degree murder, has been incommunicado with his first attorneys; thus, they said they could no longer represent hm.
Lawyers.com says a client's failure to cooperate or communicate is a prime reason for attorneys to withdraw from a case, but a a Houston Chronicle blog called Legal Trade says the No 1. reason lawyers fire their clients is money: “We don't really expect work from plumbers or bakers, doctors or manicurists or just about any one else for free. What is it about lawyers that causes folks to decide they just won't pay?”
Obviously, some clients fire lawyers due to disgruntlement over the outcome of a case. “Much like a marriage,” the American Bar Association Journal reported in 2008, “the lawyer-client relationship can seem like a match made in heaven ... But sometimes there are silent resentments and disagreements bubbling beneath the surface, waiting for a break in the facade. If the proverbial toilet seat is left up once too often, things can go south surprisingly quickly.”
To best serve Oklahoma's poor and disadvantaged, a partnership between the government and faith-based community is indispensable. The 8308 campaign, named for the number of children in DHS custody as of Jan. 1, is taking this approach to address the urgent need for foster families. A statewide conference on April 26 will provide information and resources for individuals who want to get involved and churches interested in establishing a foster care or adoption ministry. Journey Church in Norman is hosting the event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Register at http://www.faithlinksok.org. The conference is free; a lunch is provided. The campaign is a collaborative effort of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, 111 Project, SALLT and Sandridge Energy. If you've thought about what you can do to serve Oklahoma's children, mark your calendar for this opportunity to turn your faith into action.
If natural gas gets any cheaper, the energy industry will have to pay people to take it. The government is already paying people to buy CNG-burning vehicles, but more people need to take advantage of it. Natural gas prices have been hovering around $2 per 1,000 cubic feet. Compressed Natural Gas prices are below $2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. The state offers a generous income tax credit for the purchase of a CNG vehicle or conversion of a gasoline engines to run on CNG, but U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said he found rather tepid support for switching to CNG among motorists he talked to at gas stations during the Easter break. Despite high gasoline prices, switching to alternative fuels has been slow to develop.
The apparent election of a new state representative from Tulsa is a reminder that yes, every vote really does matter. That's easy to lose sight of when a race is decided by a wide margin. But the difference in the District 71 seat couldn't have been closer. After a recount by hand Wednesday in Tulsa, Republican Katie Henke was found to have defeated Democrat Dan Arthrell by one vote — 1,415 to 1,414. Henke asked for the recount after initially losing by three votes in the April 3 special election. Provided this count stands, Henke will replace Republican Dan Sullivan, who left the House last fall for another job. Whoever gets the seat, he or she will have to immediately run for re-election because the job only lasts through the end of this legislative session.
With his path to the Republican nomination for president now all but locked up, Mitt Romney can focus on choosing a running mate. It's a pivotal decision. Among the names often mentioned as possibilities are House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. All represent important states and constituencies or bring certain skill sets to the table. “It's pretty easy to name the list. It's pretty difficult to pick the guy,” U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said. Cole, R-Moore, offers a long shot female worth considering — New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. He says she's a rising star who could more than hold her own under the bright lights of a campaign.
Off the books
The number of states that have the death penalty on the books shrank by one this week — sort of. Lawmakers in Connecticut voted to abolish capital punishment for all future cases, and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Eleven men are on death row in Connecticut, and that won't change. Leaving those sentences intact helped give this bill the support it needed in the legislature. One House member called the bill “illogical” because “we allow the death penalty to continue for at least 11 people and maybe more.” True, but it's essentially for show anyway — the state has carried out only one execution in the past 51 years.
Trouble down south?
The Latino vote could be key in November's presidential election. If this demographic's views at all mirror the sentiment in Latin American countries, President Barack Obama could be in trouble. Gallup reported this week that the percentage of Latin Americans believing the U.S.-Latin America relationship will strengthen under Obama has dropped from 43 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2011. Neighboring Mexico's optimism was halved, from 43 to 19 percent. Obama's job approval rating in the region has also declined in the same time frame, from 62 to 47 percent, with Mexico demonstrating the biggest fall among the 18 countries, from 62 to 31 percent. Obama heads to this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Colombia, where Gallup says he's “seeking to strengthen commercial ties, specifically in the energy sector.” Perhaps Canada will join us in our skepticism.
A couple of easy lessons flow from the firing this week of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino. One is that hubris can be costly. Petrino clearly felt that his exalted position as head of the state's beloved football program made him untouchable. That sort of arrogance is too often the norm, not the exception, with bigtime college football (and basketball) coaches. Another is that the cover-up is always worse than the crime. Petrino's downfall started with a motorcycle crash on April 1. On board at the time was a 25-year-old woman with whom Petrino had been having an affair. He had only a few days earlier hired her onto his support staff. From the start, and despite numerous chances to come clean, Petrino lied to his boss and others about the details of the crash and the improper relationship. Despite all of this, the decision to show Petrino the door had to be difficult for Athletic Director Jeff Long, a former assistant AD at the University of Oklahoma. Kudos to him for doing the right thing.