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Posted December 20:

You write (Dec. 13-14): "And Christopher Caldwell, in a column making too many interesting points to recount, asks the question: why did the candidates file most of the Florida lawsuits against their own side, with Gore suing Democratic-run counties and Bush suing those run by the GOP, the opposite of what you might expect if the point of election challenges is to expose and correct partisan irregularities?" 

First, I would have hoped the point of election challenges would be to expose ANY irregularities, partisan or otherwise, with the ultimate aim of getting as fair and as accurate a count as is humanly possible.

Second, acknowledging that my first point is somewhat utopian, it would seem logical (from the point of view of sheer self-interest) for candidates to challenge in places where they stand the best chance of improving their own counts. 

Given the outcome, I hope you'll be as unstintingly critical of W's administration as you've been of Clinton's.

One of the reasons I truly enjoy your site is that it really makes me think about my own prejudices and my own mind-set. Keep up the (mostly) good work!  -- Nancy Anton, New York, N.Y. 

[Caldwell's discomfort and ours about the sue-your-own-side syndrome probably arises in part from the sense that while recount requests need not be an adversary matter, litigation ought to be, and that when election officials get sued by their "own" side, they will not necessarily contest the action as vigorously as they would do otherwise, with resulting danger to the rights of third parties. -- ed.]

The majority of people who work for software companies choose to be salaried "permanent" employees with benefits such as health care, stock options, and some illusion of job security.

However, some of us prefer to bill by the hour as independent contractors (or subcontractors through an agency) because the benefits are of no use to us, the pay is often three times as much, we'd prefer not to gamble in stock options, we'd prefer not to be boxed into a 40-hour work week the rest of our lives, and various other advantages.

Microsoft has decided to pay off a large number of "temporary" contract workers who sued for the cash value of benefits and stock options they would have received as permanent employees (see Feb. 17, Jan. 11, 2000; Aug. 19, 1999).  Part of the reason the temps are jealous of permanent employees is that the market caused the stock options to do well.  (If the stock options did badly I suppose the permanent employees might sue for the higher wages the temps got?)

This is unfortunate for those of us who *prefer* a simple hourly arrangement with our clients (who are usually already trying to coax us into a "permanent" job).  In fact, a previous client of mine specifically listed the Microsoft lawsuit as an objection to hiring me as a consultant rather than an employee.

Most reports of this lawsuit overlook the harm to people who prefer contract work and don't intend to sue for things that were never promised. -- Michael James, Seattle, Wash. 

On the website of notorious British gangland figure Mad Frankie Fraser [we are still trying to assimilate the idea of there being such a website -- ed.] there is a commentary on lawyers' fees that readers might find interesting.  Mad Frankie ("Dubbed the most dangerous man in Britain by two Home Secretaries") writes: "It was interesting to read the advertisement by the hotel group Ibis where they invite you to stay at one of their hotels for the month of June and pay only that which YOU decide the service and accommodation was worth." He says "this could be a really worthwhile new trend" if applied to lawyers.  "Can you imagine having to only pay your solicitor or your barrister after the case has finished and only that which you decide he or she is worth? ... For the fees of lawyers to be dependent upon the quality of the service they render would, probably, seriously reduce the intake into prisons." (column/entry for June 10, 2000) -- Pat Fish, Santa Barbara, Calif.  (more)

Posted December 1:

Here is my favorite entry from the book "The Stupidest Things Ever Said By Politicians" by Ross and Kathryn Petras (page 211):

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) chairman Gilbert Casellas was being interviewed by John Stossel of ABC News.

Casellas: The [Equal Opportunity] law's fairly clear, it's fairly simple.

Stossel: If you come to me applying for a job, and your arm's in a sling, can I ask you why your arm is in a sling?

Casellas: You can ask -- you know what?  I'm going to ask you to stop the tape ... we're getting into a complicated area.

Stossel: You run the EEOC and you don't even understand the rules? -- Larry Ruane, Parker, Colo. 

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The silver lining of this election debacle is that President-elect Bush will be even more motivated than ever to push through meaningful legal reform now that he's personally been on the wrong end of a number of lawsuits.  Would Gore have pushed this thing as far as he has if he personally had to pay the bills or we had loser pays?  W is steel and this incident will only harden him. -- Dave Begley, Omaha, Neb.

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It is wonderful that you are all Republicans, but wouldn't it be nice if Overlawyered.com could remain neutral rather than wearing partisanship like a badge! -- an anonymous reader [normally we don't publish or respond to anonymous letters, but since we got a couple of other complaints along the same lines, this one will stand as representative -- ed.]

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On Derrick Thomas (Nov. 28): On January 31, after the crash but while Thomas was still alive, ESPN reported that the county sheriff requested that the county prosecutor look into charging him for causing the accident.  I was a big fan of Thomas's, but to go from perhaps being charged with a crime to blaming the ambulance is beyond absurd. -- Dan Lewis

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