Letters to the Editor
Deserving of Attention
Posted Sep 1, 2008 8:00 AM CDT
I enjoyed your article on the difficulties faced by Iraqis immigrating to the United States after helping out American soldiers (“The Forgotten,” July). It’s amazing to me that this problem hasn’t gotten more attention. Our government definitely needs to make this a priority. Thank you for shedding light on an important issue.
Carlton J. Womble
Regarding “They Dun Them Wrong,” July: Your exposure of extensive use of mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts in the financial services industry was timely. In 10 years as a trial court judge, I’ve seen some beauties, such as complaints alleging breach of contract but containing no authenticated copy of a mandatory arbitration clause, a trial against an in propria persona defendant in which the plaintiff-assignee could not produce even an unsigned copy of the arbitration provision, and a trial involving an illegible signature on an alleged contract.
An important reason the number of civil actions filed in California courts has declined almost steadily in the past 15 years stems from the spreading use of mandatory arbitration clauses in not just credit card agreements, but also contracts for employment, architectural services, construction, real estate purchase, mortgages, and automobile and other consumer product sales. While I don’t commonly deal with the Federal Arbitration Act, and while in pro per defendants usually owe the money, the blithe attitude of the collection agency or other business plaintiff regarding evidentiary insufficiencies staggers anyone concerned about the judicial process, irrespective of the arbitration mills described in your article.
Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.)
Redwood City, Calif.
The repeat-business factor between corporations and arbitrators is enough to convince me that mandatory arbitration clauses are biased against consumers. I’ve read many arguments for and against this type of arbitration and feel that those who support its continued use haven’t come up with anything good enough to substantiate their claims.
The cost of arbitration may or may not be disclosed, and people report high fees. They also report that arbitrators ignored laws, ignored evidence that showed a company was at fault, and didn’t have to explain their decisions. It’s very hard to get out of an arbitration clause or to have a clearly bad decision overturned. Most consumers don’t know how bad it is until it’s too late. And some consumers never see or agree to an arbitration clause, but are held to it anyway.
A good example of this is the 10-year warranty on newly built homes. Or take a look at the warranty on any big-ticket item after you buy it. There is likely an arbitration clause you didn’t bargain for. I can see the validity of arguments that the courts, in order to lighten their own workload, shirked their responsibility by enforcing contracts of adhesion and other arbitration clauses that should never have been enforceable. The Federal Arbitration Act now needs to be fixed so that corporations cannot have their own private, biased justice system anymore. I wholeheartedly support the Arbitration Fairness Act.
In his interview about shifting from large-firm associate to hip-hop MC, “Street Legal,” July, Emeka Onyejekwe tried to explain why he still loves the law. As he stated, “All these things rappers talking about that people love so much—money, women, cars, jewelry—there are other ways to get these things. I graduated from law school at 24 and was making $160,000.”
As a hip-hop fan, I certainly don’t think less of Mr. Onyejekwe for his life choices. Bravo. However, I have to question his judgment when he refers to women as “things”—twice—in an interview with the ABA Journal. There has to be a better way to improve society’s impression of both attorneys and hip-hop artists than by unthinkingly repeating the misogynistic objectification of women.
Think about it. People are not chattel, Mr. Onyejekwe, and perhaps your lack of conscious reflection is why haters be hatin’.
Brent L. Ryman
REELING AT THE BAR
I enjoyed “Making TV Legal,” June, which showcased lawyers who bring our profession to the small screen. Having worked with some of the featured lawyers for many years as a consultant, I find myself in awe of the talent and tenacity it takes to thrive in the world of episodic television.
But before dropping your day job and heading to Hollywood, consider this: The rewrites make tough partner edits seem like a day at the beach, and the shooting schedules are as fast-paced as any judicial fast track.
Louise Rosen Byer
In “Acrobat 9 May Not Flip You,” August, certain statistics reported about Adobe’s Acrobat 9 software and the Acrobat.com online program were incorrect. The online service provides 5 gigabytes of free shared space, not 2GB as reported. It does not offer the ability to compare two versions of a PDF; that capability belongs to Acrobat 9. The price for Acrobat 9 Pro was also in error: It is $449, not $499. And in discussing changes in Bates numbering, the story listed capabilities as new to Acrobat 9 that are available in Acrobat 8. There are other new capabilities, including the ability to add prefixes or suffixes, load from a folder and output to a designated folder.
In “How I Learned to Litigate at the Movies,” August, the following photo credits should have been included: Max Dolberg photographed Michael Asimow and Paul Bergman; Daniel Root photographed Steven Rosen; Gary Yasaki photographed M.J. Tocci; and Rick Hovis photographed Michael Tigar.
The Journal regrets the errors.