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Showing posts from 2010

Snow, storms and a pencil sharpener

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Late on Christmas Day, in between stuffing my face with chocolate, I caught some of the news on TV and was shocked to discover a major Nor’ East-er had altered its course and would be hitting us on Boxing Day. I’ve always enjoyed US newsreaders’ love of melodrama and with the prospect of a Christmas blizzard on the horizon, they were all in their element pushing the panic button. Oh mawy gawwwwwd!Anyway, no snow fell Christmas night, but yesterday morning was very overcast and it started to spit snow from about 11.00AM onwards, gradually building throughout the day. In the middle of the afternoon, just as the snow started to get serious, I went out with a relative on an urgent trip to Staples to buy a USB hub and a new printer/scanner/fax machine which, it seemed, just couldn’t wait. We slithered our way over there and beached the car in the parking lot, having to guess where the lines were. The wind was already blowing the snow into drifts and I nearly froze my chucky off just gettin…

‘Tis the season to be…

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Embittered by a deluge of unwanted, socks, ties and chillingly festive Christmas sweaters? Enraged by pesky family members who crawl of the woodwork once a year to visit?  Sick to the back teeth of every kind of turkey dish imaginable being foisted upon you? All of the above?We’re not quite there yet, but I’m guessing we’ll all be able to raise our hands to these come this time tomorrow.   This Christmas is shaping up to be a bit of an odd affair, with my going sick for the last few days and the fact I’m out of the country at the moment. I think I’ve more or less bounced back from the dreaded lurgy now at least. I just hope Santa’s on track too.Nowadays, of course, kids can track Santa’s progress on his annual deliverathon using sites like this - http://www.noradsanta.org/en/index.htmlI don’t know whether I would have been up for that as a kid. I guess it’s good to know exactly where Santa is, but then again, you might be heartbroken if you think he’s passed you by / had to divert to …

Update from Philly

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For 2 Christmases in a row I’ve had a cold, but this year takes the biscuit by virtue of having to travel with a veritable stinker.  Now I think about it, the Christmas before that, even, I came down with something nasty on Boxing Day, (and it wasn’t just the effect the in-laws have on me) so you’d better make that 3 Christmases. 
Yep, this is starting to look like a curse.Sod’s law dictated that I didn’t catch any of the colds going around right until the day I left but then I went down like a trooper - (and please no, “that’s what she said”, quips!!)  Travelling is really bad enough without feeling really crappy on top of it.  Luckily, though, I think the sinus pain brought on by the high altitude helped to take my mind off of my rasping sore throat so that’s something I guess. Anyway, my nose is now Rudolph red, my lips dry, cracked and bleeding and I’m as snotty as could be.  As charming as ever in other words.But, after being out for the count for the first few days, perhaps the …

Toxic sofa syndrome – justice at last?

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From Sky News 15/12/10:A final group of victims who suffered skin complaints from chemically-treated 'toxic sofas' have won compensation.Some 408 claimants, including 55 children, will each get £1,800 in payouts.The case was launched against three retailers - Argos, Land of Leather, and Walmsleys - who accepted liability for selling the tainted sofas.In total, more than 2,000 people received compensation after suffering burn-like irritation.After medical tests, it was tracked down to the sensitising agent dimethyl fumarate (DMF) in the sofas manufactured by Chinese companies Linkwise and Eurosofa.In April, an agreement was reached which saw £20m distributed between around 1,650 people, depending on the severity of their symptoms.However, 408 customers who bought their sofas from Land of Leather - now in administration - looked set to miss out, as another judge had ruled that they were not entitled to compensation from Zurich, the company's insurers.Zurich UK said it had be…

Is the iPad culture killing blogging?

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I’ve been quite vocal about the decline in the UK blawgopshere in the last couple of years, but I’ve suddenly started noticing a few worrying signs about our counterparts in the US. They’re starting to drop off the map, too.It’s not just the half-hearted hobbyist bloggers though. Suddenly some of the heavy-hitters who have been lynchpins in the ‘sphere for several years have decided it’s time to reserve their energies for more meritorious ends. So what’s driving this sudden exodus?For me, the biggest question is what has happened to the stream of new blood that was flooding in a couple of years ago. New law students are still enrolling each year, so where are the fresh-faced upstarts ready to pick up the slack? Granted, only a tiny proportion would have ever become bloggers, but when those that would have done so 3 years ago, no longer regard blogging as a worthwhile activity, we’re suddenly on a one-way street towards extinction.So, what’s causing the well-established regulars to win…

It must be that time of year again…

Yes, the Law Actually Christmas decorations have gone up in the form of updated header and footer banners.  I know, I know – big whoop.  Still, rather fittingly this year, we’ve even got some snow on there.  I’m meant to be leaving for the US in a week’s time, and I’ve got next to nothing done in terms of Christmas shopping yet.  This could be awkward.  I think Amazon is going to be getting a fair bit of business from me this Sunday.Coincidentally, this is also the 500th post to appear on Law Actually.  It’s a pity it wasn’t something more meaningful.  Oh well.

The Best Lawyer Adverts on TV - EVER

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I actually discovered this quite by chance a few weeks ago, but haven’t got around to blogging about it before now. This collection of TV adverts for law firms range from the bizarre to the hilarious, all the way through to the downright disturbing. Against a backdrop of the UK’s rather conservative approach to advertising law firms and legal services, they’re all the more outlandish.Actually, some of the ads are a bit extreme (even for me) but it certainly beats a suited and booted Billy Murray, pleading with you in a slight ex-gangsterish way that you really NEED a personal injury solicitor and CAN get what’s rightfully yours, and you know what, that accident really WASN’T your fault.  Still, maybe I shouldn’t knock it. While it might seem a bit of a come-down after the highs of starring in ‘The Bill,’ at least it makes a change from doing endless panto! Right, Billy?Anyhoo, to the ads…Rather than a scene of several conscientious-looking, smartly dressed morons poring over some pape…

Yes, they’re back: Wacky Search Terms

It’s been a while since I’ve done a wacky search terms post, in which I document the various weird and wonderful phrases people have Googled and gone on to stumble across Law Actually.I thought it was high time they made a reappearance; think of it as an early Christmas special.“is it a leggal for kid over 13 to trick a treat” Well, deciphering your question, I would say, yes, but only with his mummy's permission!  ;-)

“flying cow storm” - wow... is that like something out of the bible?

“how do lawyers use dictaphone” – well, funnily enough, they speak into them.

“disposable fountain pen and how useless they are” – you get what you pay for!  :p

“post man sues grit” - I hope grit’s got a good lawyer!

“poking yourself in the eye with a biscuit and missing your mouth” - what kind of person a) does this and b) googles it?!  And doesn’t the second bit necessarily follow – unless, of course, this person routinely eats through their eye.

“what ever happened to the…

Sponsor a law student

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Tuition fees are very much in vogue at the moment, given the prospective hike in fees which UK students can expect to be paying soon.If attending a collegiate demonstration and rocking a police van from side to side with your peers isn’t quite your thing, you could always try different tack. Why not take a leaf out of US blawgger Ruth Carter’s book.I was fascinated to read a post from a her blog, the Undeniable Ruth, which appeals to her readers for sponsorship to help her pay her law school fees. Whatever your feelings about this approach, it’s certainly an interesting idea. From my perspective, I’m not sure whether this counts as evidence of good entrepreneurial flare, a quirky idea to help cover the spiralling costs of tuition or brash impertinence.Ruth, who’s a law student at Arizona State University, describes her sponsorship scheme as follows:When I applied to law school, the average debt for a student graduating from my program was ~$50,000. Today, the average debt is over $89,…

Why should blog spammers get a free lunch?

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Although spam has been one of the scourges of the internet for several years, most spam filters are now good enough for you not to have to worry (or even think) about it.  That’s certainly true of Gmail.  Spam comments on blogs, however, are a very different matter.All bloggers must be hit by this menace – I know I am.  Most of us make use of word verification technology to help prevent spam attacks from bots but this does nothing to stop somebody sitting in India who’s being paid to repeatedly add spam comments to a blog post for SEO purposes.  For whatever reason, today’s been a particularly bad one on Law Actually; they’ve been spamming the s**t out of me.Unless and until the spam filter functionality which blogspot recently started featuring gets a lot better, the only effective way of combating it is a very manual approach - by deleting the offending comments.  That’s not great, but doing nothing is definitely not an option.I’ve always regarded a blog as more of a dynamic convers…

Relaxation techniques for lawyers - relax-a-law

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Introducing relax-a-law.  Over 6 hours of recorded audio comprising 101 deep breathing and relaxation exercises designed specifically for busy lawyers.  Now available for digital download.Crazy long hours?  Manic case load?  Clients screaming for results? Hounded by the Solicitors Regulation Authority? Close your mind to all these worries and more and just drift away on a sensual journey into the unknown, with the soothing voice of Johnny Squaharlow.

Relax-a-law deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere: at your desk, in the boardroom, on the train - even in open court.So the next time you’re stuck on a dreary conference call that seems it’ll never end, just stick them on mute and bung in your earphones. Comes with a complementary set of massage oils.Customer Testimonials:“It’s brilliant, I feel so much more relaxed thanks to relax-a-law.  (I did get some funny looks from co-workers, though, with my heavy breathing.  Actually, they’ve reported me to HR.  But still, I’ll be much…

Secret Santa Arrives Early

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The office is gearing up for the Secret Santa draw later this week. I’m actually going to miss the Christmas ‘do’ this year due to travel plans but I thought I’d show willing by participating in the secret-santa-yankee-swap routine. As painful as it might be.Whilst secret santa exchanges tend to be a universal disappointment throughout offices the world over, heaven help anyone who tries to avoid them by pleading poverty or some other excuse. Worst still, never, ever say you’ll do it and then try and pull out. The organiser has decided to try and get participants to sign a gentlemen’s agreement to prevent a bevy of withdrawals late in the day.  Good luck relying on that one.And who said the spirit of Christmas was dead?Anecdotally, it seems that people have started Christmas shopping earlier than ever this year. It’s still not quite hitting my radar yet, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ignore it for too long.  Plus, the infamous Coca Cola ‘Holidays are Coming’  ads have already star…

Flying Pasties – Don’t let them see you naked

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Given my Cornish roots, (and clearly innocent mind) I was initially slightly puzzled as to how the use of ‘pasties’ would be of useful application in shielding your modesty whilst going through airport scanners.   After all, hot pastry snacks and underwear, seldom go hand in hand – even in Cornwall.Anyway, if you’re not up to speed with exactly what a ‘pastie’ is in this context, here’s the deal.I naturally took the concept of Flying Pasties as a spoof initially.  On closer inspection, clearly it is not. Flying Pasties are rubber pads that you place over your nether regions so that anyone reviewing your image on a full body scanner doesn't see anything that you wouldn't want to expose without first being taken out for dinner.Flying Pasties aren't stickers or paper cut-outs. They're 2mm thick pieces of rubber that adhere to your skin to cover your breasts and genitalia. According to the manufacturer, when your image appears on the full body scanner monitors, areas of sk…

Parcel Delivery Guide for Postmen

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Given that today is a potentially historic day for Royal Mail, I thought ‘posting’ this would be particularly apt! ;-)I’m sure we can all relate to it:Originally seen here.That said, I don’t think it tells the full story in the case of UK deliveries. I’ve heard it rumoured that certain posties are in the habit of leaving householders a P739 card, (more commonly known as a ‘sorry you were out’ card) when, in fact, they hadn’t left the house all morning. This isn’t due to the postman’s quiet knocking, nor a malfunctioning door bell. Rather they sneak up to your house with all the cunning and stealth of an SAS sniper and leave the card before creeping away because they haven’t got your parcel with them at all. It’s back in the depot!! On busy days, they only take a portion of the bulkier items on their rounds to help spread the load over the week.Sneaky. (If it’s true, of course!)

Law Actually Mailbag: Jennifer without a G

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The following email plopped into my inbox a while back but I’ve been a little slow in answering it.  To partly cover up my tardiness, I though that rather than just giving my own views on this, I might throw it out to the whole blawgosphere – as one of my ‘mailbag’ features.So, what did law graduate Jennifer have to ask?

“Hey

I am jennifer XXXX from india.I have currently finished my bachelors in legal sciences. I have the option of transferrin my credits and joinin law school in the uk. The issue is that it is very expensive. Will i be able to repay a loan with a part time job? Mostly i should be studyin in london. Is it really worth all the trauma? I mean emotionally,mentally and physically. Out of 10 how much would you rate the course as tough? Considering i am a little gullible is it ok to come there? Will i  get an oppurtunity to  grow or will it  blow me away in the very beginning? Also if the environment is going to be extremely negative due to the competitiveness then …

Lyrical Testimonies: Looking for burglars under the bed

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From the Metro 03/11/10:
A police marksman has been accused of putting song titles in evidence he gave at the inquest of a barrister shot during an armed siege.The Metropolitan Police firearms officer, known only as Alpha Zulu 8 (AZ8), allegedly mentioned [song titles] during his verbal testimony on the death of Mark SaundersIt was not confirmed what the song titles are said to be. However, a review of the evidence has led to speculation about examples.Ah – so it’s speculation then…
At one point he used the phrase ‘enough is enough’, – the subtitle of single No More Tears by Barbra Streisand and the name of a track by US band Stick To Your Guns.He also said ‘point of no return’ – a Duran Duran hit – and used the words ‘line of fire’ recorded by rock band Journey.He declared in one sentence ‘I am kicking myself’, which is the title of a song by New York rockers As Tall As Lions. The officer described how ‘in quiet moments I think if there was another way we could have done it’.…

Apple, Apple, Toil and Trouble…

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From the Metro 29/10/10:Apple bobbing is a traditional game to play on Halloween but health chiefs say the ‘dangerous’ activity could end up leaving you blind.A ‘high velocity impact with an apple’ has the potential to cause serious eye injury while unclean water could lead to infection, officials say.They recommend wearing goggles, disinfecting water containers and removing apple stalks before dunking your head into a bowl of water to retrieve the fruit.An eye expert even suggested children remove the floating apples with their hands instead of their mouth, in a new twist on the Halloween game.They also warned of the dangers of fancy-dress contact lenses, which could cause irritation, and lanterns – because people occasionally hit their head on them. ‘Casualty staff have seen children and adults turning up on Halloween with scratches on the cornea and blunt eye injuries from impacts caused by apple bobbing,’ said consultant ophthalmologist Parwez Hossain. Anybody who caught the brand …

Trick or Treat Sweets

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Just the thing to offer the kids who come knocking at my front door trick or treatin’ tonight.  Oh, I forgot – sweets aren’t accepted any longer.  Kids operate a ‘cash only’ policy now.  I’d better turn all the lights off and pretend we’re out then.Found on Chicago Now (via Digg – as usual).

Speeding motorist nabs police’s domain name

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From Raw Justice.com 08/10/10:
Most of the time, if you get a speeding ticket you just grumble about it and pay the fine. It’s usually not a big deal for most people unless it happens a lot or they get caught going a ridiculous amount over the posted speed limit. You can fight it in court or just pay the ticket, and for most people those are the only options.However, after receiving a $90 speeding ticket in Bluff City, Tennessee, Brian McCrary discovered a third option. The Bluff City Police Department had forgotten to renew their domain name, BluffCityPD.com, and let it expire. McCrary bought the domain name for $80 and posted his side of the story with information about speed traps in Bluff City and the $250,000 per month they cost the town’s 1,500 residents.The police department had no idea their domain name had expired and that McCrary owned it until reporters started calling them to ask about it. Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson said they may approach McCrary about buying…

Facebook sues Faceporn

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From the Register 25/10/10: Facebook is suing Faceporn for alleged trademark infringement.The social networking giant claims Faceporn copied its logo, aspects of its blue and white page design and other trademarks.A statement on faceporn.com says: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, faceporn is down until further notice. We are doing our best to come back better than ever.The death-knell of all public statements – “we’ll be back bigger, better, vastly improved” etc. etc.

Yeah – they never do.
"We're currently working to launch a completely new version of the site, and it will be the best porn site the world has ever seen."I like the hard-talking bravado from Faceporn there. But isn’t that a bit reminiscent of Heineken’s strapline, “Heineken doesn’t do X but if we did… it’d be the best X in the world” Cue another law suit I say.  Likelihood of confusion?  Pah!!  When’s doubt over the credibility of an action ever prevented it from being brought?
Documents filed…

Please: boycott comic sans

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Developed by Vincent Connare and released by Microsoft in the mid nineties, this abomination has been plaguing documents and the web ever since.  Please don’t let it continue, if only for the bunny’s sake.I’ll never forget as an undergrad when one of my lecturers used comic sans as the font for the law school handbook. It rankled at the time. It rankles even more so now.  I understand that they were trying to strike a more informal, approachable tone, but it still looked terrible and wasn’t fooling anybody. 

I had a little less respect for them after that. No self-respecting lawyer should ever consider using comic sans - for anything.  And yes that even includes those in academia!Yep – it’s all that and more.
Check out bancomicsans.com. Even the Beeb have got in on the act.

Bird Trouble

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The Michael spent a very infuriating and exhausting Sunday, crawling, stumbling, ducking and diving around in our loft in pursuit of a tiresome starling that had somehow found its way in.

I think we’ve flushed the little blighter out for the time being and blocked off where he was getting in.  (I cut lengths of unused fake-wood flooring left in the loft to help block off the gully which I think served as the entrance for our feathered friend - but sssshh - don’t tell the landlords!)

I did learn one thing though: trying to rig-up a trap with a bread roll in a recycle bin with a wooden spoon propping the lid open really isn’t worth the trouble.I have to admit that the scene from  Daphne du Maurier’s ‘The Birds’ was firmly in the back of my mind throughout it all - you know, where Nat is trapped in a darkened room with dozens of birds swooping and pecking him for all they’re worth.  Rather than resorting to wrapping a blanket around my head to prevent my eyes being pecked out as …

A Law Actually Interview with… Charon QC

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Although my remote interview series isn’t making a comeback, the inimitable Charon QC was very much on my shortlist last time around.  It might have taken a little while to make it happen, but I think you’ll find couched within his answers, a fascinating insight into one of the blawgosphere’s most prolific, quirky and respected blawggers.  Anyway, let’s get straight to the questions:What’s the story behind the (now legendary) blawg, Charon QC?  How did it first come about?Having been a law teacher for 30 years - and founding BPP Law School with BPP Holdings PLC in the early 1990s - I have always been interested in writing.  Writing law books for students is a pleasure - but not exactly a barrel of laughs.  There aren't that many laughs in the Law of Contract, sale of Goods or Civil and Human Rights Law.After leaving BPP I was free from constraints.  I started the character Charon QC in 2003 or thereabouts after a couple of years amusing myself and meeting some great people on Roll…

Laptops and toasted skin syndrome: a few thoughts

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From The Metro 04/10/10:
An unusual skin condition which once afflicted bakers and glass-blowers has made a comeback. Except this time it’s affecting laptop users.'Toasted skin syndrome’ which is caused by long-term heat exposure, is affecting people who use a laptop on their knees.It is generally harmless but can cause permanent skin darkening, and in rare cases is can lead to cancer, Swiss researchers warned.In one case, a 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discolouration on his thigh after playing computer games for a few hours every day for several months.In another case a US law student developed the condition after spending about six hours a day working with her computer propped on her lap.The temperature underneath the machine registered 52C (125F)This story has been widely reported over the past week and I first encountered it in the trusty Metro.  It’s good to see the law student putting in the hours but there are a couple of things which I still don’t …

A cry for help from a foreign law student

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It’s been a while since I’ve shared any of my ‘law actually’ email with the sphere and I’ve received a couple of quirky bits a recently so thought I’d throw them out there. 

I’ve removed the sender’s name and the university they attend.
“I am a LLB student. I found your article very interesting and had a few queries. Actually i am in my first year and to be honest i find law very difficult. I even had to resit 2 papers-public and land law. I have not got the results yet and i am really worried because i am an international student studying at [a northern] university UK. And it is very costly. If i fail these resits i don't know what will happen. Could you please suggest me something. Do you think studying law in a british university was a bad decision. Please help me. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you”So, fellow blawggers, what should be the advice here?  I’ve certainly got my own ideas but I’ll be interested to get some other views.

Council goes bonkers over conkers

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From Guide to Nottingham 04/10/10:
Nottingham City Council removed conkers from a horse chesnut [sic] tree on Friday for health and safety reasons.The decision was taken by the council when a four year old girl was seriously injured after she was hit on the head by a stick, thrown by boys trying to dislodge conkers.The removal of conkers from trees has been criticised by many as going a step too far with regards to health and safety. The Government also announced that killjoys could be forced to pay compensation if they unfairly scrap public events.In the past, health and safety officials have also banned pancake races, school trips, and even sweets being thrown to kids during pantos because they are deemed unsafe.Well, there’s nothing like a Murray mint chucked in your eye to get a pantomime reveller straight down to the local A&E, only to be later cossetted by a personal injury solicitor who turns up salivating at the prospect of new business.
The Government is now trying…

More Underground Misery – Collection of ‘best’ jokes according to the Telegraph

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Thank God I haven’t been caught up in the latest strikes – at least not yet!It seems the telegraph have provided a round-up of these side-splitting gags to, you know, get the dejected and frustrated commuters around London see the funnier side all this.  Ahem.Why are Chelsea like the RMT? Two strikes have caused absolute misery in the Arsenal area.Hmmm.Why did the Smarties cross the road? Their tube was on strike.Oh very droll! 
What's the difference between an RMT member and a stopped clock? For two minutes a day, a stopped clock actually works.Nah.Why is an RMT member like an Oyster Card? You can feed them all the money you want but they'll always run out at the most inconvenient moment.Kind of funny. But not quite.  Let’s try again.What's the difference between the RMT and lightning? Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.Ermmph.Why do Bob Crow's children walk to school? If he drove them it would constitute unpaid overtime.hehe – good one!    But who’s Bob …

Taser Tantrums & Police Brutality

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From ABC Local 30/08/10:Marin County man has filed suit against the Marin County Sheriff's Department for an incident in which he says law enforcement officers went too far. Peter McFarland was Tased  inside his own home as his wife watched, begging officers to stop.(BTW - is it tased or tasered? - no, i don’t know either)
On June 29, 2009 McFarland and his wife Pearl were returning home from a charity fundraiser just before midnight. McFarland injured himself as he stumbled and fell down the long steps to his front door."Mainly it was to my knee and the front of my leg, my shin," McFarland said.His wife called paramedics, who helped him into the house and treated him. As the paramedics were leaving, two sheriff's deputies arrived."All of a sudden, they just showed up, they came in here ... like a gunfight was going on," McFarland said.What happened in the following minutes was captured on a camera mounted on the deputy's Taser.The deputy tells McFar…