The October edition of ALO news comes to you from the Elk Farm where winter has arrived a bit early. Several small snow showers have left a white coating on the ground for the past week and the temperature hit zero the other night. The result is frozen ponds and chilly deer hunting. This year's season was unproductive despite unusually high numbers of deer. Last night, a couple days after the season closed, more than 30 deer were observed in a field right across the road from the farm, and none appeared to be an adult buck. The breeding season should be in full swing right now, but it seems it is late. Perhaps it is too cold for sex..
About a dozen large bucks were observed prior to the season on game cameras, and this one was likely the best, but this one is also a dandy.
The Elk Farm hunting crew had ten cameras out this year, and the daily camera check is a highlight of fall on the farm. Despite no deer during the season, an unfortunate car-deer crash on the road near the farm resulted in the harvest of a large buck which was shared with neighbors. Road kill is often wasted in Minnesota because many folks don't place a high value on wild game meat. That would not happen in Bethel, Alaska. The weather there, incidentally, was very warm in October. On October 7th Dolly snapped this picture of the wild flowers planted in the former dog yard, which are well fertilized. Of course flowers should not be blooming in Bethel that late.
ALO settled an interesting case from Kotzebue recently. The case involved a bad fall in a store entry caused by a curled floor mat placed there that sent an elderly lady to the hospital for surgery. It was a hip fracture complicated by an earlier hip replacement. The medical treatment carried a price tag of about $250,000, and under Alaska law, medical providers including insurance companies can collect the amount expended for care for a patient if that patient collects money from a third party for the injury. The injury was such that the lady suffered impairment of her mobility which is likely permanent.
A store representative contacted the injured lady right after her surgery, and offered to pay her $5,000 for her injuries. The lady, under heavy medication, thought that was nice of them and agreed to the settlement without seeking the help of a lawyer. Later she was contacted by the medical provider and told she needed to pay for her medical services from the money she collected. Of course the medical bill was much higher than the settlement, so she paced a call to ALO. A lawsuit followed, and the first issue before the court was whether the release signed by the injured party was valid. ALO suggested in its argument that the amount offered to the injured lady was unconscionable, among other arguments. On the day before the case was to be heard by a judge in Kotzebue, the parties settled the claim, for a lot more than $5,000.
The recent passing of Olive Hawk brought back memories of first impressions in Bethel. In 1974 when State Public Defender Herb Soll sent the Angstmans to Bethel to open the first Public Defender office, Olive was one of the first locals encountered at the Legal Services office above the old Pentecostal Church by Nicholson's gas station. The move to Bethel was chancy. There were two people and a dog, no place to live, no office, no bank account, and no welcoming party. Olive was office manager for Legal Services, and a sharp young woman who knew how to get things done in Bethel.
Her first task to help find a place to live. Staying at the Kuskokwim Inn with a dog was a challenge. An earlier call to Legal Services had revealed that Henry Jung was building three small houses for rental on 7th Avenue. Upon arrival, Olive suggested we go by to have a look, as she thought they were about done. The buildings looked finished, and no one was working on them. Olive mentioned that Henry lived in Napakiak, but that he came to Bethel often. She tried calling him without success.
Housing was in seriously short supply at that time in Bethel, and the Angstmans needed a place. One of the houses had an open window, which provided access for a quick inspection tour. Noting that it would be easier to negotiate a rental from within the house, it was decided to simply move in and find Henry later. A Tundra Drums message was sent to Henry. "Please meet the Public Defender at the Court house as soon as possible." Thinking he had somehow screwed up, Henry showed up the next day. He was surprised to learn that one of his houses was already occupied. It didn't bother him enough to kick anyone out, so a rental amount was agreed upon and eventually a key was obtained.
Olive then recommended her relative Margaret Cooke as a good candidate for a legal secretary. She called her and after a short conversation in Yupik, Margaret took the job. One can only imagine what they said in Yupik. Within a few weeks an office was found in an old trailer right near the Legal Service office and things were rolling. For the first few weeks the tiny conference room at the court house served as an office, and the police delivered the customers right to the door. It took a while to get a typewriter and phone, but it didn't take long to get into court. Operating without a bar permit while awaiting bar exam results, certain court functions were allowed but others required a license. One day a trial was scheduled for Tununak, and Judge Eben Lewis from Anchorage was going to fly out and observe the trial conducted by the local magistrate. A trial lawyer was needed and there was no one on hand in Bethel. A call was made to Anchorage explaining the problem. Herb Soll pondered the issue and said there was no lawyer in Anchorage available on short notice to do the trial. He further suggested that the lack of a bar license would only be a problem in the event of a loss. Everyone involved knew there wasn't a licensed lawyer sitting at the defense table, except the client. Fortunately for him, the assault case against him was weak, and any fool could have won it for him. He was acquitted and a few days later Judge Lewis swore in a newly licensed Bethel lawyer who has been at it ever since.
Olive's role in those early days was a key one. Without her help that Bethel job might not have worked out. Thinking what might have happened if the Bethel stop was short lived is scary. Practicing law in the city with a fancy suit and a demanding boss doesn't seem like it would have worked. Thank you Olive.
One final legal note: Please check the resume of the current acting Attorney General of the United States. Not only has he not been confirmed by the Senate as required, but his work history leaves him utterly not qualified for the job. Why was he picked? Because he has expressed his dim view of Mueller's investigation and has also expressed completely loyalty to Trump. Stay tuned to that story.
This video catches a pair of lynx in a classic, vocal stand-off. Who knew what a lynx sounded like? This month's mandatory moose was posted by Greg Parvin, an attorney that works together with ALO on some legal matters in the Matsu Valley. Watch this to see what a grizzly bear does when gathering food poses a problem. The bear video was posted by Josh Fitzgerald, another attorney that works with ALO on cases from Kodiak.
ALO news often highlights rural Alaska folks who make notable achievements. This month that means Laureli Ivanoff of Unalakleet. That small village has been mentioned here before. As city attorney for Unalakleet for a long time, it became apparent there were many high achievers who grew up there. Laureli first showed her skill as a reporter for KNOM when she would cover dog races around the state, including the K300. She always seemed to know what she was talking about when she conducted an interview. She became a family friend over the years. Recently she has written articles for the Anchorage newspaper, and one of those appeared here earlier. This article, her first in the New York Times, is a major step up. The Times does not publish that many articles from folks around the country unless the author already has some notoriety. Laureli is a smart and thoughtful woman, and there will be more articles for sure.
Laureli's discussion of climate issues relating to her family should be read in conjunction with the final link for this month. This article discusses the fact that Exxon employed scientists in the 70's to study the state of the evidence on global warming. Of course those scientists confirmed that human activity, mainly burning of fossil fuels, was causing a rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which in turn was causing a rise in global temperatures. Exxon then set out on a campaign to hide that information. The reminders that this is a current problem crop up frequently, and this is only getting started. Buckle up.