What Does the Public Guardian Do?

I am one of two local attorneys who serve as a public guardian for Cabarrus County. Attorney Andrew Phillips with Kraus Law Firm is the other public guardian. When a person is found legally incompetent in a court proceeding, they normally have a family member or friend who can take control of the financial affairs of the “ward.” Sometimes, however, the ward does not have family in the area, no relative or friend is able to serve, or the ward’s financial affairs involve complex legal issues that make it appropriate for an attorney to manage the situation. Being a public guardian carries with it great responsibility, but it is a privilege and honor to be entrusted with the care of people who might otherwise have no one to help. I am also very, very fortunate to work alongside attorney Andrew Phillips. Andrew’s partner, Rick Kraus, is also an excellent attorney, and a reputable member of the Cabarrus County Bar.

Tangled Up In Litigation (Part 2: “Blowin’ in the Wind”)

How can I possibly connect Bob Dylan to municipal law? With a porta-john, that’s how. Evidently, there is a porta-potty at the edge of Bob Dylan’s scenic Malibu estate, and his downwind neighbors are smelling more than just the Pacific sea breeze. His neighbors have pleaded with Bob to remove the porta-potty, but without success. It remains on the border of the property despite the fact that whatever construction project resulted in its placement is no longer ongoing.

Malibu municipal law does not specifically address portable toilets, but it does provide that temporary structures connected with construction projects must be removed upon completion of the project. It also prohibits objectionable odors “in excess of what is normally found in the neighborhood.”

Bob doesn’t care much for government regulation, however. When building his security guardhouse at the estate in the 1980’s, county building inspectors discovered that the guardhouse was not handicap accessible. Bob’s response, in writing, was that he promised he “would not hire any handicapped persons” to work in it.

Tangled Up In Litigation (Part 1)

Bob Dylan was and is a genius. But if you’ve ever subjected your ears to his 1970 album Self-Portrait, you might find yourself wondering the same thing as Rolling Stone magazine in its review: “What is this ___?” (See…/albumr…/self-portrait-19700608) Some speculate, and Dylan has hinted, that the album was bad on purpose. The reason might be, oddly enough, connected to contract law.

In his younger days, Bob did not seem to care much for reading contracts. He signed on with Columbia Records before he reached the age of 21. He is quoted as admitting, “I was just so happy to be able to record, I didn’t even read it.” When Albert Grossman became Bob’s manager a short time later, Grossman began waging a war on Columbia Records and what he felt was a crummy deal with the record label. Grossman hired a lawyer to write a “disaffirment” letter to Columbia stating that the contract was invalid because Bob was under 21 when he signed it. But Columbia (without notifying Bob’s attorney) managed to get Bob to sign a “reaffirment” of the Columbia contract. The terms were less than advantageous, but Bob’s troubles did not end there.

In the late 60’s, Grossman had a contract drafted that gave Grossman a 50% claim on every song Bob wrote for the next 10 years. It turns out that the Self-Portrait album, recorded after Bob finally got around to reading the contract, is an album of cover songs NOT composed by Dylan and therefore not subject to Grossman’s 50 percent cut. And it never earned much money because…well…just read the Rolling Stone review.

Boundary Disputes

When I first started practicing law, one of my father’s first pieces of advice was this: “John, the surest way for an attorney to get shot is to go out to a boundary line dispute.”

People take their property rights seriously. And they should; they’ve worked hard to own land. If you are in a boundary dispute, don’t wait to see an attorney. Time can be a factor because of NC law on “adverse possession.” Jim Scarbrough has 40 years of experience in real estate law. It would be our privilege to defend your property rights.

Debt Settlement Scams

As everyone knows, there are plenty of no-good con artists out there looking to make a quick buck off of the elderly and people in vulnerable situations. One such scheme is the debt settlement scam. It is illegal for anyone except an attorney to take an advance fee to settle consumer debt. In fact, it is a misdemeanor. I have met with too many people who have sent money to outfits with a slick website promising to settle debts for cents on the dollar, only to see that money disappear.

If you encounter such a scheme, contact the Attorney General’s Office. I am helping investigate one such scam now, and I can tell you that the attorneys with the NC Dept. of Justice take these scams seriously, and will not stop pursuing these con artists until they are held accountable.

If you have personal experience with any of these scams, please share in the comment section.