Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Convention Lives Up to Expectations

I must admit I anxiously, and somewhat impatiently, anticipated the Democratic National Convention. In my experience when I approach an upcoming event with great expectations, rarely does the event meet those great expectations. The Democratic National Convention at which I was privileged to serve as a Delegate was all that I expected and more.

The city of Charlotte seemed well prepared, overflowing with security and uniformed police officers patrolling and providing traffic control. The people throughout the city could not have been more friendly and welcoming. On my long walks from the bus or train to the Charlotte Convention Center where the meetings were held, or to the Time Warner Cable Arena for the Convention, I was repeatedly greeted with “Hello’s” and “Welcome to Charlotte.” Even the demonstrators were polite as I walked by each morning on my walks to and from bus/train transportation.

The Pennsylvania Delegation included me and fellow Fayette Countians, Lauren Mahoney, Pat Jones, and Al Ambrosini. Pennsylvania was one of the largest Delegations at the Convention and despite our size and the challenges associated with such a large body, it did seem to be well organized. Credit must be given to Fadia Helma, who serves as Assistant Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and who had the responsibility to keep our delegation organized and to respond to all of the problems facing the Pennsylvania Delegates. Her efforts made our job much easier.

Each morning Pennsylvania Delegates would meet for breakfast and to hear speeches and comments from various officials, including US Senator Bob Casey, and former Governor Ed Rendell. On Thursday morning, we were visited by AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, a former resident of Nemacolin, Greene County. He provided an inspiring commentary concerning the problems that face the nation and what might be done to improve the plight of all Americans, with specific reference to the middle class. Richard, an outstanding orator, gave a fact-based commentary which was well received by the Delegates. The morning breakfasts were filled with many repetitive comments, but there was much to learn as the Delegates continually received information concerning the platform and the facts and statistics which would support the important platform positions of the Democratic Party.

Following breakfast, I attended several caucuses and meetings of various groups. All of the caucuses were interesting, each discussing issues relating to that particular group. When one reviews the line-up of caucuses, it’s a wonder that all the Democrats with many varying views can come together and support one Candidate for the nations highest office and a platform which obviously must be negotiated and is the subject of compromise. I suspect that the members of Congress can learn something from the Delegates attending the Democratic Convention who must negotiate and compromise on various issues so that a platform can be developed and finalized.

I was interested in hearing from speakers that would provide facts and statistics in support of the Democratic platform. I wanted to know what the President would do, assuming he was reelected, to move our nation forward. Many speakers touched upon the typical patriotic themes of love of family, neighbor and nation. I believe that both political parties can agree on these issues and that the Candidates from both parties truly love their families, neighbors and, of course, our nation. But the true question is, what can be done to make our nation better?

There were many outstanding speeches, video presentations, and vocalists. I was impressed on Tuesday evening with actor/producer Kal Pen and Minnesota Governor Deval Patrick. But First Lady Michelle Obama seemed to be most at ease in front of the crowd and cameras and delivered an outstanding address.

Wednesday evening was perhaps the most anticipated by many Delegates as the iconic and legendary Bill Clinton was set to address the convention. Clinton is arguably the best orator of our time. Former President Clinton gave a lengthy presentation that was fact-based, offering sound arguments to refute the positions taken by the opposition. His speech offered a specific history as to what has occurred in recent years in Washington and what must be done to move the nation forward. Most of the remarks given by the other political leaders did not contain a great deal of content, but former President Clinton’s remarks overflowed with content. His presentation was truly remarkable and for those readers who have not had an opportunity to see and listen to him, I would certainly recommend that they find his remarks online and treat themselves to his address. I cannot think of anyone better to nominate an incumbent President than former President Bill Clinton.

On Thursday, due to threatening weather, the convention which was to be held at the Bank of America Stadium was moved “back” to the Time Warner Arena. As expected, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barrack Obama addressed the delegates. Vice President Biden reminded me of one of the “fellas” I might have coffee with, pontificating on a number of subjects. His was not a speech, but rather a conversation and in his way I am sure quite effective. President Obama is an orator and I would describe his delivery as a mixture of trial lawyer and preacher; some facts, some fire and brimstone, and a very smooth presentation. I expect it must have been difficult for him to speak after such a dynamic presentation by former President Clinton. I suspect it is unfair to compare his remarks with those of former president Clinton’s. In any event, President Obama provided a number of facts and statistics outlining his presidency to date, and his plan for the future.

In conclusion, it is for the American people to decide in this great country of ours who will be our next president. I feel blessed to live in a nation where every four years power may be transferred in a peaceful and honorable manner. Our system, which is not perfect, is the best known to mankind and as I sat listening to all of the speeches, good and bad, I was humbled and proud to live in this great nation and privileged to play a small part in the political process. I hope that all of our leaders at all levels can find wisdom in the words of former President John F. Kennedy “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

--- James T. Davis, Esquire

Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Democratic National Convention

In 1960 I sat glued to the television in our family’s apartment as Democrats from around the nation nominated John F. Kennedy. I was mesmerized by the convention process and dreamed that someday I would be "involved" in a political convention. My interest in the political process and in politics continued to grow in the months that followed as J.F.K. defeated Richard Nixon, becoming the first Catholic President.

Any thing was possible in this wonderful Nation of ours. Anyone could be successful! Anyone could be President! Dreams do come true, and my boy hood dreams of attending a National Convention are about to be realized many decades later. My father always reminded my brother and me how important it is for all American to be involved in the political process. We both have tried to follow his advice, I am certain he would be quite proud and perhaps a little envious of me and of my privilege to serve as a Delegate to the Convention.

This Democratic Convention isn't filled with the excitement of 1960 as modern conventions seldom are but the process of electing our Commander and Chief is just as important and exciting .

The times are different as we live in an era of gridlock and mean spirited discourse. The Nation cries for leaders that can compromise and find the common ground and not merely complain about the past without any plan for the future. As a delegate, I intend to ask the difficult questions and support those that seek compromise and consensus. The years of stagnation must end NOW. If our leaders, at any level of government, think that name calling and finger pointing is leadership, they are misguided and have misjudged the voters. Every American deserves better from our elected officials and should demand better.

We should vigorously remind all of our elected officials of the wisdom of John F. Kennedy, who said “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

--- James T. Davis, Esquire

Friday, July 6, 2012

Judge Ralph Warman: A man of honor

On July 2, 2012, Fayette County Common Pleas Judge Ralph C Warman officially retired. He was greeted by family, friends, and colleagues with a surprise luncheon in the Courthouse Gray Room. As he entered the room to resounding applause, I could not help but think back to the very first day I met him. Both of us were young Assistant District Attorney’s eager to become successful prosecutors and trial lawyers. From the moment we met, he impressed me with his ingratiating smile and warm gestures. I soon came to realize that he was something special. In those years as assistant District Attorney no one worked any harder or provided more support to the staff than Ralph Warman. If you were in the middle of a trial and needed some quick research, the next thing you knew he was handing you a case on point. If you had to interview a witness at 2:00 A.M. during the middle of a homicide trial, he would go along with you. He rose through the ranks of the district attorneys’ office under the direction of then District Attorney, and now President Judge Gerald R Solomon, and was eventually elected District Attorney. Prosecutors and defense attorneys alike would all agree he did an outstanding job as Fayette County’s District Attorney.

His ascension to the bench seemed to be part of a natural progression and he embraced his role as a Fayette County Judge with the same energy, devotion, and discipline that enabled him to be an outstanding prosecutor.

Ralph, the son of Ruth and Myron Warman, is a member of a proud and distinguished Fayette County family, a family known to place service over self. Ralph continued that family tradition of public service in his years as Fayette County District Attorney and Judge.

There are many words one might use to describe him, such as intelligent, articulate, diligent, energetic, fair, and honest, but the word I would use is honorable. Judge Warman is and has always been, an honorable man. At the time when so many public officials lack honor and as a result are held in low esteem by the public, Judge Warman has always been the most honorable person I have ever known. We can only hope that his successor is possessed with the same characteristics that made Judge Warman so successful. We can only hope that his successor will be honorable. Judge Warman’s legacy, a legacy of honor, will be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

----- James T. Davis, Esquire

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fair Share is Unfair, Protect Yourself

The legal concept of Joint and Several Liability was designed to protect victims and require those responsible for injuries to compensate those victims. The concept simply required that the victim be fully compensated for the damages sustained. When there were multiple at-fault parties, the victim could collect full damages from any one party and that party could seek reimbursement from the other at-fault parties. This concept, which I have described in its most elementary form, was developed by legal scholars throughout the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over the past two hundred years. Nearly every legal scholar today firmly believes that it has served the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania quite well.

Despite the opinions of nearly every legal scholar, the Pennsylvania Legislature and Senate decided, most likely under pressure from big insurance, to eradicate Joint and Several Liability. Governor Corbett, as one of his first acts, signed Senate Bill 1131 (Act No. 17) into law on June 28, 2011, dramatically changing Pennsylvania law with the stroke of a pen. What is the future for those injured in Pennsylvania when there are multiple at-fault parties? Some will face financial ruin. In many instances, the damage expenses, which would have been recovered from the at-fault parties, will now be passed on to all Pennsylvanians, as victims with unpaid medical bills will be forced to seek payment through the Department of Public Welfare. Therefore the expenses, no matter how great, will be passed on to all of the taxpayers. The result is the victim is not fully compensated, (possibly rendered insolvent), and an at-fault party avoids the responsibility of fully compensating the victim, instead passing the responsibility on to all Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Consider the following scenario:

A young girl from a poor family has been assaulted at a daycare center by a repairman called into the center to repair an electrical problem. The daycare center failed to investigate the worker, who was a convicted child molester. The offender assaulted the child. The child’s injuries will force her to undergo medical and psychological care for the rest of her life. The child’s parents sue the daycare center and the repairman/child molester. The daycare center has liability insurance of $100,000.00, while the repairman/child molester is uninsured. The jury awards a verdict of $100,000.00 to compensate the child for the medical expenses and the pain and suffering she has undergone and will undergo in the future. The jury allocated negligence at Ten (10%) Percent against the daycare center and Ninety (90%) Percent against the repairman/child molester. Under the “old Pennsylvania law,” the insurance company for the daycare center would be required to pay the verdict and seek contribution from the repairman/child molester. Under the current law, Act No. 17, the child would collect $10,000.00 from the daycare’s insurance company and the remainder of the verdict would remain uncollected as the repairman/child molester has no insurance and it is unlikely he would have any assets with which to satisfy the verdict. The cost for this child’s medical expenses, past, present and future, will most likely fall upon the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

In the scenario outlined above, there is very little anyone can do to protect themselves from the inequities of Act No. 17 which has been inappropriately labeled by its supporters as “Fair Share Act.” However, in the area of automobiles and automobile insurance, I would urge everyone to carefully review their automobile insurance policy and, to the extent that they can afford it, increase their liability coverage and purchase underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage in an equal amount. I would also encourage everyone to stack their underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, which means that the amount of coverage which they actually have would be multiplied by the number of vehicles that they own or, in many situations, are owned in their household.

I would also suggest that all consumers speak with their insurance representatives about the possibility of purchasing an umbrella insurance policy which would provide coverage and include in that policy underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage.

In a society where legislation is driven not by legal scholars by uninformed and misinformed legislators, an individual must avail himself or herself of all available protection.

-- James T. Davis, Esquire