James J. Bell, Amateur Life Coach – April 16

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James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

 

Dear Bell:

I am the writer of a blog regarding life and law. The other day, a lawyer said to me “no offense, but no one reads your blog.” Amazingly, even though the lawyer said “no offense,” I was still offended. What’s wrong with me?

Sincerely,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

Dear Amateur Life Coach:

Shhhhhh. Be quiet a second.

I am listening to the sound of crickets chirping as you type your useless words and send them into a cyber-void where they will never be read again.

Just kidding. (Sort of.) Let’s do a little investigation to see if anyone is really reading your blog. Reader(s), I will give $20 each to the first 3 people who email me at jbell@bgdlegal.com with the phrase “I read it” in the subject line. The first three emails must be received by 5 P.M. EST. on Tuesday April 16, 2013 to collect the money.  (ICLEF employees and their families do not qualify for this offer.)

OK. Back to your question. No nothing is wrong with you. The term “no offense” was invented to make the insulter feel better about his or her comment. It was not invented to help the insultee. In fact, I think that saying “no offense” actually pours salt on the wound and makes the comment more painful.  For one thing, it shows that the insulter knows that what he or she is about to say is possibly insulting, but said “to Hell with it” and said it anyway.

Also, saying “no offense” highlights the insult to the insultee prior to receiving the insult. Have you ever gone to the doctor and received a shot where the medical tech gives you a countdown before giving the shot?  When the tech says “3, 2, 1,” I am always in more pain by the count of 2 than I am after the shot. If you are going to put a needle in my arm, don’t warn me. Just sneak up on me and give me the shot.

Same for insults. Don’t tell me to “brace” myself for the insult by saying “no offense.” Just insult me. It will hurt less. In fact, I am so dense, if you don’t say  “no offense,” I may not know you have insulted me.

Jeff Foxworthy once commented that people think that they can say the meanest things provided they follow up their comment with “bless his/her heart.”  For example, “She is so fat. Bless her heart.”  Seinfeld and Larry David once did a bit on Curb Your Enthusiasm in which they argued that people can’t avoid insulting a person by giving an insult and then saying “having said that” and then giving a compliment.

So, Amateur Life Coach, let’s face it. No one reads your blog. Bless your heart. But no offense should be taken. At least the lawyer didn’t say “No offense, no one is reading your blog AND you are ugly.”  Having said that, I am sure that you have some redeeming qualities somewhere and I happen to know that your mother loves you.

Hope this helps,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

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Dear Bell

Over the weekend, at the Masters, Tiger Woods received a two shot penalty instead of being disqualified after he signed an incorrect scorecard for an illegal drop. Do you agree with that penalty? What if this was a criminal case?

Just wondering.

Sincerely,

Golfing in Griffith

Dear Golfing:

First of all, can we just give Tiger a break? It seems like all we have been talking about lately is Tiger’s personal life, his game and his negative strokes. Regardless, I agree with the assessed penalty. There was no need for disqualification.

If this had been a criminal case, what Tiger Woods suffered through would have been considered total and complete entrapment. After being alerted to the illegal drop, the Masters’ Rules Committee determined and then informed Mr. Woods that the drop was legal. Only then did Tiger sign his scorecard.

The defense of entrapment is defined in Indiana by IC 35-41-3-9. This statute states that it is a defense to a crime that the “the prohibited conduct of the person was the product of a law enforcement officer, or his agent, using persuasion or other means likely to cause the person to engage in the conduct” and “the person was not predisposed to commit the offense.”

In the case of Albaugh v. State, 721 N.E.2d 1233 (Ind. 1999), the defendant’s pickup truck broke down. The defendant abandoned the truck, walked home and started drinking. Five hours later, the police told him to move his truck. The defendant, drunk and confused, obeyed the police officer’s request and drove his truck into a cornfield. The defendant was then arrested for and convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Citing the entrapment statute, the Supreme Court of Indiana reversed and held that “the State failed to meet its burden of proving that the officer did not cause [the defendant] to drive his truck while intoxicated.Id.

Albaugh presents a clear case of entrapment. In that matter, the officer requested the defendant engage in illegal conduct. In Tiger’s case, Tiger was actually told by the governing body that his signing of the scorecard was okay. A police officer can’t tell someone to drive drunk and then yell “gotcha!” Same goes for the Masters’ Rules Committee. If this were a criminal case and I was on the jury, I would acquit Tiger on the basis of entrapment. But a jury trial was not an option for Tiger and he negotiated a fair plea bargain with the Rules Committee.

Some have called Tiger’s character into question over this incident. Are these people attempting to claim that Tiger was “predisposed” to this sort of conduct? I have heard a lot about Tiger in the last few years. I have heard everything from wild women to . . . . well . . . wild women. After doing some research, it turns out that Tiger’s problems actually start and stop with women. But I have never heard any accusations of illegally dropped balls — on the golf course. Therefore, I believe he was not pre-disposed to this sort of conduct, that the defense of entrapment was applicable and that the penalty was reasonable.

It should be noted that in a post-round interview, Tiger Woods made statements to the media that prompted Masters’ officials to take a closer look at the incident.  Whether an accused should speak or not is a whole other issue. In the February 5, 2013 Amateur Life Coach Blog entry, we discussed when and why an accused should testify. If interested, please take a look.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

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James focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense, attorneys discipline defense and health care law. As a Marion County Public Defender, he represented clients in numerous jury and bench trials. James also represents clients in juvenile delinquency, appeals and post-conviction proceedings. James is a frequent ICLEF speaker on ethics, trial practice and criminal procedure. As of January 2013, he began serving as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law where he teaches a course on professional responsibility. To date, no student has yet stood on their desk and shouted “Oh captain, my captain!” Follow James on Twitter @jamesjbell

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?  Email them to scottking@iclef.org.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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