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    Jenny BoeseDouglas BakerBarry BolineLaura SuessMonte Weiss

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 10, October 2003

    Book Reviews

    Book: The Winning ArgumentFalls and Related Injuries: Slips, Trips, Missteps and Their Consequences

    By Alvin S. Hyde, Gary M. Bakken, Jon R. Abele, H. Harvey Cohen, & Cindy A. LaRue (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2002). With disk. 532 pgs. Order, (800) 209-7109.

    Reviewed by Monte E. Weiss

    Falls and Related Injuries is an all-encompassing resource for those who litigate slip, trip, and fall cases.

    The text has three sections: the first outlines why people fall and who falls more often.

    While useful, this portion is more for researchers, because it contains detailed factual information and references.

    The second section is of more use to the practitioner, because it includes a review of the types of hazards that contribute to falls. The detailed explanation of how people fall allows the reader to understand what kinds of injuries typically result.

    The last three chapters in this section will receive the most attention. Chapter 17 summarizes legal issues associated with slip, trip, and fall cases from the plaintiff's perspective. The chapter discusses such topics as the duty owed to others, and identifies potential defendants.

    Aptly titled "Defenses in a Slip and Fall Case," chapter 18 is the defense side of the story. The chapter outlines common defenses used and provides legal authority for each defense theory, thereby allowing additional follow-up.

    The last chapter is the busy lawyer's dream: checklists.These checklists highlight areas of investigation and help remind counsel to inquire into "obvious" topics (for example, shoes worn by the client) and the innocuous, such as particular phobias of the client. There are also checklists for use in questioning witnesses and deposing the defendant, and even one (albeit a bit brief) for expert witnesses. Obviously, a good defense lawyer could use these resources to prepare for the same depositions.

    The final section, "The Fall Prevention Manual," offers information concerning the construction of premises (whether remodeled or new construction) to try and minimize the creation of slip, trip, or misstep hazards. The CD-ROM provided includes the forms and checklists found in this section.

    This text is an exceptional resource for those who handle the slip, trip, and misstep cases.

    Monte E. Weiss, CWRU 1991, of Weiss Law Office, S.C., Milwaukee, focuses in the defense of insurance companies, their insureds, and self-insured companies.

    Viatical Litigation: Principles & Practice

    Edited by Gloria Grening Wolk (Laguna Hills, CA: Bialkin Books, 2002). 320 pgs. $295. Order, orders@viatical-expert.net.

    Reviewed by Douglas E. Baker

    Most attorneys have a nodding acquaintance with the phrase "viatical litigation" but probably, and erroneously, presume it has little to do with their practice.

    A viatical settlement occurs when an insured person exchanges a life insurance policy for an immediate percentage of the death benefit. ("Viaticum" is Latin for "provisions for a journey.") The practice took off in the 1980s, when an AIDS diagnosis seemed a death sentence and people so diagnosed found themselves with accumulating medical bills and few assets other than a valueless (to themselves) life insurance policy. A few desperate souls sold their policies for cash, and an industry was born. The pool of viators expanded again when senior citizens were persuaded to make such deals - termed "senior settlements" or "life settlements" - as an estate-planning tool.

    The editor of Viatical Litigation, a social worker, financial professional, and advocate for appropriately done viatical settlements, makes it clear that such settlements are not inherently problematic. Serious complications often arise, however, because the industry, unregulated at its inception, remains, in the words of one commentator, the "wild west" of financial planning, touching on but not necessarily controlled by securities and insurance regulations, and sometimes falling between the cracks of state and federal laws. Such an environment has attracted ethically challenged characters on all sides, and the waters have been clouded by questionable practices and outright fraud. Because viatical settlements and their proceeds have made their way into various real estate deals, estate plans, marital settlements, IRAs, and other otherwise innocuous financial transactions, viatical litigation can be an issue for attorneys who had little idea it was lurking in the background. At least one attorney, for example, found himself on the wrong end of a malpractice suit when he failed to recognize that a particular viatical settlement was part of a Ponzi scheme.

    This collection of law and commentary helps clarify the issues and the law, and includes a selection of successful pleadings and briefs for attorneys who choose or are compelled to resolve wrongly done viatical agreements and their consequences. It is of uneven literary quality, as might be expected from an assembly of lawyers with varying writing styles, and suffers from an occasional lapse in copy-editing. The glossary is useful. It would help if the table of authorities were broken down by jurisdiction. Still, considering the growing impact of this little-known area of law, this small but heftily-priced volume deserves to be read, and probably placed in the firm library.

    Douglas E. Baker , Creighton 1989, a former legal editor for State Bar CLE Books, is an associate with the Wilson Law Group, Madison, where he has a general practice that includes business law, family law, and estate planning.

    Congressional Deskbook 2003-2004 - 108th Congress

    By Michael L. Koempel & Judy Schneider (Alexandria, VA: TheCapitol.Net, 2003). 656 pgs. $70.50. Order, www.congressionaldeskbook.com.

    Reviewed by Jenny Boese

    Dwight Eisenhower once said "politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen...." Should you take that to heart, one book you can read is the Congressional Deskbook. From detailed information on the federal legislative process to the interplay between the different branches of government, the Congressional Deskbook provides a solid overview and is a good, albeit hefty, read.

    The book begins by providing a look into the life - both the advantages and the pressures - of those who serve in Congress. It proceeds by organizing chapters around: support entities to Congress; organization of Congress; in-depth description of the federal legislative process; overview of federal budget process; explanations of Congressional documents; information resources; researching and tracking Congressional action; and a case study to integrate these chapters into a more understandable whole. A final added bonus is the "back of the book" segment that includes a glossary, eight appendices, and relevant Web sites.

    While many of the chapters can only provide a cursory look at the issues or entities in question, the meat of the book arguably comes from the chapters explaining legislative processes. This is where the book dives deeper into descriptions and terms. Related chapters on information providers and researching resources provide lots of useful information. Because the book conveys a lot of valuable information here, it can be text-heavy, but the use of sidebars assists in directing attention to important information or helps break it into more digestible pieces.

    Overall, the Congressional Deskbook is an excellent resource for individuals seeking to learn or expand their knowledge of Congress and our system of lawmaking. What's best about the book is that it puts so much valuable information into one place and provides hundreds of additional resources, should the reader desire to learn more.

    Jenny Boese works in government affairs at the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Washington, D.C. She formerly was the senior government relations coordinator at the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Minnesota Legal Research Guide, 2d Edition

    By John Tessner, Brenda Wolfe, & George R. Jackson (Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co., 2002). 479 pgs. Order, (800) 828-7571.

    Reviewed by Laura Suess

    For practitioners and legal researchers who are looking for an excellent tool to obtain legal authority in Minnesota, in this reviewer's opinion the search is over. The Minnesota Legal Research Guide, Second Edition, is a fabulous desk reference that contains a comprehensive description of the means to access legislative, executive, judicial, and administrative law in the state in both print and online versions. The authors of the guide are librarians whose collective background covers all three of Minnesota's major law schools. Though this second edition benefits its intended audience in the field of legal research, the book's comprehensive coverage also is useful to lay persons looking for a lawyer and individuals interested in learning about the basic history of Minnesota's government.

    The guide presents an overview of the State of Minnesota's historical beginnings and follows with chapters devoted to each branch of government that include helpful Web site and contact information for political offices, commercial publishers of legislative materials, and material available through Westlaw and Lexis. The balance of the chapters thoroughly discuss finding aids and secondary sources, including federal and state forms, legal periodicals, special interest publications and newsletters, and legal institutions and organizations.

    The remaining half of the guide consists of 15 appendices, the most noteworthy of which include a table detailing the amendments to the state constitution proposed to voters since 1958, a numerical index of Minnesota Attorney General opinions, and the system of citation to Minnesota legal resource documents.

    The usefulness of this guide cannot be overstated; it is helpful not only to legal and historical researchers but also to the public. It contains a well-organized table of contents that points the reader to a quick reference of helpful resources and definitions that are instructive to lay persons, yet it also is a sophisticated tool for experienced legal practitioners. The book also contains lists and contact information for the state's law and nonlaw libraries, colleges in the state that offer library school programs, programs of study for paralegals, and related organizations for legal assistants and legal secretaries. The guide includes a section detailing available public education and referral services to both pro bono and independent legal aid programs.

    The guide is a very effective research device that is not likely to be outdated, because its extensive coverage renders it a useful starting point for obtaining the most current information. The Minnesota Legal Research Guide is highly recommended for Minnesota practitioners and lawyers out of state who wish to have a handy desk reference for finding the law in Minnesota.

    Laura Suess , William Mitchell 1997, is a former research attorney with Shneidman, Hawks & Ehlke. She is currently employed by West Publishing Co., in St. Paul, Minn.

    Electronic Surveillance: Commentaries & Statutes

    By James A. Adams & Daniel D. Blinka (Notre Dame, IN: National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2003). 218 pgs. $42.95. Order, (800) 225-6482.

    Reviewed by Barry J. Boline

    Professors Adams and Blinka have produced this resource manual for the criminal law practitioner looking for a quick and ready reference regarding electronic surveillance and portions of the United States Code dealing with it. The book is divided into six short sections explaining the state of the law in the areas of screening passengers and property at airports; interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications; wire and electronic communications interception and video surveillance; pen registers and trap and trace devices; mobile tracking and thermal imaging devices; and electronic communication and transactions records. These sections are followed by United States Code sections dealing with electronic surveillance.

    The sections read more like separate articles rather than chapters of a book, not being overly interdependent on one another. The format makes the publication very readable, but I was left wanting more in-depth information about certain subjects. While there are some citations to federal case law throughout the publication, the book heavily cites sections of the United State Code. This book is not intended to be an in-depth research tool on electronic surveillance.

    Professors Adams and Blinka do a good job of alerting the reader to changes in electronic surveillance following the passage of the USA Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56) and its amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1811. They describe new privacy concerns for citizens who have encounters with law enforcement in a post-September 11 United States, and detail remedies aggrieved citizens have after being electronically surveilled in violation of the law.

    The authors point out in their overview that "[t]echnological changes, especially electronic, have profoundly and pervasively affected American society...." In that context, this book provides a good overview of the law (and recent changes), which will continue to be a hotbed of appellate activity for many years. While not a detailed review of the subject, this publication is an excellent tool for the criminal lawyer looking for a primer on different aspects of the federal law related to electronic surveillance.

    Barry J. Boline, Drake University 1994, practices family and criminal law in Mequon. He is also licensed to practice in Iowa.

    To Review a Book...

    The following books are available for review. Please request the book and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127, org klester wisbar wisbar klester org.

    Publications and videos available for review

    • ALI-ABA's Practice Checklist Manual for Drafting Leases IV: Checklists, Forms, and Drafting Advice, edited by Mark T. Carroll (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2003). 223 pgs. CD-ROM.
    • Forensic Aspects of Communication Sciences & Disorders, by Dennis C. Tanner (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing, 2003). 393 pgs.
    • Forensic Aspects of Driver Perception & Response, 2nd ed., by Paul L. Olson & Eugene Farber (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing, 2003). 372 pgs.
    • Legal Cases of the Civil War, by Robert Bruce Murray (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003). 352 pgs.
    • Terrorism Freedom & Security: Winning Without War, by Philip B. Heymann (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003). 286 pgs.
    • Toxic Mold Litigation, by Raymund C. King (Chicago, IL: ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, 2003). 196 pgs.
    • Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs & Oral Argument, by Hon. Ruggero J. Aldisert (Notre Dame, IN: NITA, 2003). 400 pg