Friday, January 11, 2013

Off topic: Stupid legal argument of the week

File this under the category "too good not to report."

Most people know that a corporation is generally considered a "person" under the law.

Jonathan Frieman of San Rafael was driving all by himself in the car pool lane on a California highway that requires "2 or more persons" (that's what the signs say) in the vehicle. A Highway Patrol officer pulled Frieman over, and Frieman reached over and grabbed incorporation papers from the passenger seat and handed them to the police officer.

Get it? Frieman claimed he had two persons in the car -- Frieman, and the "corporate passenger" embodied in the incorporation papers. The police officer told Frieman to tell it to the judge.

Frieman actually got an attorney to who argued on his behalf that freeway signs requiring "2 or more persons" in car pool lanes are unconstitutionally vague.

Traffic referee Frank Drago wasn't buying it. He said the underlying purpose of the law shows why a corporation, even if a person, is not a passenger. "Common sense says carrying a sheath of papers in the front seat does not relieve traffic congestion. And so I'm finding you guilty."

Frieman plans to appeal the ruling.

It is legal arguments like this that bring disrepute to the bar. Every rational person knows what "2 or more persons" means. Here's a hint to lawyers: when a client insists you make an argument that is patently absurd, tell him or her "no." If the client gets another lawyer, it's no loss to you.