Category: Laws

What is Executive Privilege?

What is executive privilege? If someone wishes to explain something as being, or not being, covered by the poorly understood doctrine of executive privilege, it ought to be well understood first. To begin, it is not written anywhere in the US Constitution, but has always been respected as a part of Common Law (U.S. Common law is, or was, derived from British Common Law) and is based on court decisions, and opinions developed going back to the frightful events of 1215 in the Runnymede Meadow.

George Washington claimed such a privilege but it was not called “Executive Privilege” until the mid 1950’s when the phrase was coined. But the concept had been used all along by many presidents, and accepted, more or less by our Congresses.

So what is it ?

The idea is that when an executive such as the president is conferring with his adviser or advisers or other high officials about items of national importance that the president is using as a basis for a decision those discussions and the individuals involved might be best kept secret so that political pressures would not taint the truth and usefulness of the information.

Generally the presence of a disinterested party would negate the concept of a private conversation. A trivial subject or one already well known publicly, would also compromise that assumption of necessary secrecy.

How has it usually worked ?

When a committee of Congress requests or subpoenas information as to how a decision was reached and who presented that information, a president might well claim the conversation with and between those advisers to be in the national interest and private.

Almost always either house of congress has accepted that claim. Quite often as a compromise the president will provide all, or enough of the information to selected members of Congress so that they, being above reproach can explain to their peers that the claim is valid. That has worked out fairly well for two hundred and forty years with possibly some exceptions.

Back to the previous comments. So Hunter Biden has absolutely no right to claim excessive privilege and I doubt that he ever tried to do so. Attorney-client privilege, spousal privilege and usually the religious confessional privilege are similar and almost always honored.

Similarly the current president can invoke the privilege but it never has been used to cover up all information passed between all members of an administration.

That is significant due to an important exception. Executive privilege does not and never has been allowed to cover violations of the laws, rules,or regulations, implicit or implied, of this nation, anyway not until the current administration decided to challenge the right of Congressional oversight that is written into the Constitution. But that is another interesting discussion.

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2020, Foc’sle Chatter, All Rights Reserved

President Pele

The caddies really did give Trump the nickname “Pele” as he kicks the ball so often. I think we should all use that “nom de crayola” for him all the time, at least until he issues an executive order to prosecute those who respond. Yes, President Pele fits him just right.

I’m originally from New York and the current President Pele was known in The Big Apple as a liar, a cheat, a serial adulterer, a draft dodger, a multiple business failure and general “SOTE” that is Scum of the Earth.

When the NY banks will not deal with you, the Mafia loan sharks say, no way, and the local lawyers, who generally will represent just about any lowlife who can pay, all have full calendars, you should know better than to vote for him. So I have little political sympathy for the mid-west farmers who are now reaping the whirlwind. It is a shame that so many decent people and their families are being hurt. And actually disastrous that this country of laws, generally self enforced laws., are being broken right in front of the Congress that is not able to perform its sworn duty because of cowards who fear losing their seats. more than they are willing perform their duties of office.

Charlie Jensen

Copyright 2019, Foc’sle Chatter, All Rights Reserved

Avoiding People’s Courts

how to avoid the People's Court

I am not usually a fan of TV shows other than News or a Science documentary channel, but one of my favorites is The People’s Court.  It is amazing how many people do not understand the essential rules of the Uniform Commercial Code which I think is the same in both Canada and the USA.

Case after case is brought in, disputes over misunderstandings that could be avoided by a little knowledge marinated in a sprinkling of the salt of common sense.

One very frequent problem is that deposits to hold a sale in abeyance are not refundable unless agreed to in advance and memorialized in writing or at least through mutual e-mails, or texts.  Deposits purchase time, whether ten minutes or ten days.

Buying a used auto is an “as is sale”.  The occasional “Lemon Laws” only apply to new vehicles purchased from a commercial dealer.  Not in private sales.

Buying a ten or fifteen-year-old vehicle with close to or in excess of 200,000 miles is not a guarantee of lifetime free repairs. Quite often bad things just happen and are not the fault of the last person you blessed with your patronage.

When renting, where a 30-day notice is required, that means a full thirty days from the next “Rental Due Date” preferably in writing not by voodoo hand signals.  And in most jurisdictions, there are laws about informing a vacating tenant the reason security is being withheld in actual writing on paper listing the suspected damages and the estimated cost of repair mailed to the tenant within a specific time period.

Also when a renter vacates the premises, anything left behind whether usable or garbage becomes an expense to the owner that can be charged to the security deposit.

An engagement ring is a gift in anticipation of a wedding.  Cancel the nuptials, even for the best of reasons and it needs to be returned to the purchaser.  Also, actual gifts given while playing house do not suddenly become loans when the wisdom of a breaking up lights the bulb over your head.

A salesman’s “puffery” (verbal comments) is not a warranty.  Trusting a person you only met on Craig’s List or at an auto shop’s back room a few minutes earlier is not a cause of action in court or a reason for slanderous remarks posted on some social media website.

how to avoid the People's CourtUnless you are a certified auto mechanic with six to ten years of actual experience it is wise to spend a few dollars to hire a real automotive repair technician (ASE certified) to examine a prospective purchase before you sign the sales contract, not a few weeks later when a knocking rod starts to wake the dead as you drive past the nearest  cemetery. Your favorite uncle or recent boyfriend may know how to drive but is not the best choice just because he, or she, “knows” about cars.

Your former friend calling you to get his or her money back is not harassment, even if they get upset at your ducking them and avoiding repayment.

Of course, one party to a contract cannot unilaterally decide to change the terms of a contract no matter how convenient it is.  A thirty-day warranty on an auto is valid for precisely thirty days, not six months or the first oil change.

The mental idea that, “I never said I wouldn’t pay the loan back, ” cannot be deposited in a bank or mailed to a landlord as payment for rent.  It is also seldom useful in buying week to week groceries.

how to avoid the People's CourtChild support is not a gift to the other spouse.  It is your share of the expense of raising, feeding, clothing and housing your child, not something subject to your luck at the racetrack or the change in the price of a bag of weed.

One more thing, when there is any written contract (e-mails or texts may count as well) between parties that clearly lay out the terms of an agreement, prior oral statements, pinkie swearings or sincerely crossed hearts are not admissible.  The limits are the four corners of the agreement.

If more people understood these things and a few others before they signed a written agreement, life would be much easier.  I am sure other readers can add a few more misunderstood rules.

As Judge Marilyn Milian so often says; a loan of anything over a $1.oo should be in writing, even on a piece of toilet paper, in crayon if necessary, if there is to be any hope of repayment.