Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Oakland Art Fire Results in 36 Deaths ~by Legal Pub

Derick Almena is the 47 year-old manager of the Oakland, California warehouse that went up in flames during a weekend party.  The fire killed 36 people.  Many are complaining that the facility did not meet code nor did it have the requisite permits.  Almena, has publicly said that he was sorry for the tragedy that occurred at the residential art community.   "… I'm incredibly sorry and that everything that I did was to make this a stronger and more beautiful community and to bring people together… People didn't walk through those doors because it was a horrible place. People didn't seek us out to perform and express themselves because it was a horrible place."

Nevertheless, the site has become a mass grave and may lead to criminal and civil actions. Murder, manslaughter, wrongful death are just some of the legal terms being bantered around in the media.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Has Paul Newman Stereotype in "The Verdict" Come True? ~by Legal Pub

I remember when a movie starring Paul Newman titled "The Verdict" upset quite a few lawyers.  The movie portrayed the leading attorney as an alcoholic.  While the alcoholic attorney won a big case despite being outgunned, the movie portrayed the profession in a state of dysfunction.  Many attorneys spoke out publicly against the unfair portrayal of a clearly impaired attorney who tarnished the image of the trial attorney.  Some attorneys swore such alcoholics in the profession were a rare anomaly. However, recently CNN, announced the findings of a new study which strongly suggests that lawyers are struggling with depression, substance abuse, and alcoholism.  Furthermore, the study goes on to explain that the profession's suicide rates are quickly rising. Worst yet, the study concluded that there is a high percentage of practicing attorneys who are alcoholics.

A survey showed that a significant percentage of attorneys are unhappy with their legal job because of extreme stress from deadlines set by clients, partners, judges, and filing deadlines.  For some reason, lawyers complained of long hours of sitting at a desk and reading cases and/or technical documents. In an attempt to escape this stress, too many attorneys apparently drink heavily.

The American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation reported that approximately 21-36% of attorneys drink at levels consistent to alcohol addiction. (If true, this is 3-5 times higher than the general population.)  Please see The Journal of Addiction Medicine, 2016, for the published survey. Similarly, the study suggests high rates of depression among practicing attorneys. So why is substance abuse so rampant?  Is the practice of drinking away stress a generally accepted practice in the profession?  After all, attorneys all belong to the bar, right?  Wrong.  Excessive alcohol use is a poor escape that typically only adds to the attorney's problems.

If you know of an impaired lawyer or are an impaired lawyer, please contact your state bar association.  Almost every bar association has an impaired attorney help program.  The practice you save may be more than just a practice... it may be a life.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Halloween Hot Water Ends College Career of Jonnu Smith ~by Legal Pub

A Florida International University football player got in hot water.  Unfortunately, the reason why he was in hot water was because his pregnant girlfriend poured the water on him.  While not covered in many mainstream media outlets, this event was a serious assault, if true.  The injuries from the boiling water will prevent the victim from playing again in college. It is uncertain whether Jonnu Smith will ever have a chance to realize his dream of playing in the NFL.  

So why would his pregnant girlfriend, Mary Gaspar, throw boiling water on him?  The incident allegedly occurred after the couple had an argument on Halloween night.   Jonnu Smith, a tight end for FIU,  – was arguing with Gaspar, who is five months pregnant.  Mary's primary complaint was that she wasn't getting enough attention from Smith. After the last argument, Smith returned to his dorm on campus.  Gaspar then allegedly went to the dorm and poured a boiling pot of water on Smith. 

Gaspar told police that she was feeling “emotional and stressed.” Gaspar hit Smith with the water because Smith did not react properly to her words. Smith sustained severe burns to various parts of his body, including his head, neck, back and arm. Gaspar was charged with aggravated battery and released on a pre-trial release order.

Smith has officially been ruled out for the rest of the FIU season. Smith was projected to be selected in the late rounds of April’s NFL Draft. The tightend caught 39 passes this season for 441 yards and three touchdowns.  Smith has 175 career catches for 1936 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Future of Driver-less Cars Should Be Now! ~by Legal Pub

Some say driver-less cars are many years away.  Others contend that the technology is already here but human acceptance is not.  Google's self-driving cars are already on the road.  To say that the car is largely a success is an understatement.  In theory, occupying such a vehicle allows the occupants to sleep, surf the internet, chat on the phone, watch internet television or actually do productive work while commuting. Think Lincoln Lawyer- only without the human chauffeur.

So will it happen?  Technology to date suggests that automated cars make fewer mistakes than humans. But self-driving cars raise major questions of social significance, mainly, will it interfere with personal injury lawyers ability to make a living?  For example, will lawyers still be able to bring law suits or will there be mandatory arbitration clauses to govern compensation for injuries?

Today, if an accident happens, the driver is the subject of legal scrutiny. Drives are also held to certain standards such as not driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or distraction.  With driver-less cars, is it suddenly acceptable to drink and ride? Do distracted driving laws become obsolete over night? Perhaps more troublesome is the quality of the individual who actually programs the vehicle to react when an emergency occurs.  As a driver, we may make a split second decision when faced with an emergency presenting a moral dilemma? For example, when the computer has a choice of hitting a pedestrian and saving the driver or steering into oncoming traffic to avoid the pedestrian, the decision seems to place God-like power in the hands of a computer programmer back at the factory.  Manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz have already written programs that make the decision for the automated cars. They choose the safety of the driver. LINK   Will the Mercedes Benz software choose the same option that you would have made if you were behind the wheel?  Moreover, should the government step in and mandate the choice the car manufacturer's software makes in emergency situations?

Time will tell as to the moral issues.  As to the legal issues, you can bet that the lawyers will find someone to try to hold responsible for accidents and their shrinking bank accounts.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Jim Carrey to Experience Real Life Courtroom Drama? ~by Legal Pub

Jim Carrey once played a lawyer in Liar Liar.  Now he may end up getting real life court experience. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of of Cathriona White by her mother, Brigid Sweetman against Carrey alleging wrongful death. The lawsuit alleges that Jim Carrey gave three sexually transmitted diseases to his girlfriend, Cathriona White and that White's suicide was the result of her obtaining prescription medication from the actor.  Mark Burton (White's estranged husband) previously  filed a similar wrongful'death lawsuit against Carrey.  It is unclear how both plaintiffs can maintain separate suits.  law suit.  Michael Avenatti represents both plaintiffs.

Cathriona, 30, died in 2015 with a bottle of prescription medication nearby.  According to the coroner's report, it was suicide. Ambien, Propranolol and Percocet were all found in her system.  Carrey and White dated off and on from 2012 until the time of her death.  Carrey denies giving her the drugs. Martin D. Singer represents Jim Carrey.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Time to Stop the Heroin Madness ~by Legal Pub

It is time to stop the heroin madness.  Addiction is on the rise and there is no easy solution in sight. Recently,  a 7-year-old McKeesport, Pa. girl could not arose her parents.  She went to school anyway.  She told the bus driver that she was not able to wake up her parents. The bus driver reported the conversation to authorities who found the bodies of Christopher Dilly, 26, and Jessica Lally, 25, inside the little girl's apartment.  Both Dilly and Lally apparently died of drug overdoses.

An NBC affiliate reported that the double overdose  in question was the second one on that block in less than a day.   NBC WPXI.  
This is truly become a public heath epidemic.  As many as 10 Pennsylvanians die each day due to addiction.  Nationwide, opioids  and prescription pain relievers killed more than 28,000 people in 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 50% of Opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription drug.  Pennsylvania is not the only state with an Opioid addiction problem.    [174 heroin overdoses in 6 days in Cincinnati]

Where does it end?  While that answer may not be clear, it starts with education about the addictive properties of both prescription and nonprescription Opioids.

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Crime Statistics Fuel For Presidential Debate? ~by Legal Pub

Is the United States getting to be a bit more dangerous of a place to live?  One presidential candidate says no and the other says yes.  What do the latest statistics show?  2015 statistics show that violent crime in some U.S cities increased since 2014.  While this is disappointing, this is still a rate well below the overall crime rate which peaked in the early 1990s.

FBI statistics show an increase in homicides in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington D.C. In Chicago, 54 more people were murdered in 2015 than the year before, a 13 percent jump in the city's murder rate, according to an April study by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.  For example, in Chicago, 54 more people were murdered in 2015 than in 2014 according to an April study by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. In fact, a U.S. Justice study documents almost 17% increase in violent crimes in 56 of the U.S. major cities.  Is this a product of the economy?  Police brutality?  Or perhaps the termination of "stop and frisk" programs is to blame. Quite frankly, the presidential candidates each have separate and distinct opinions on the matter and their views directly hinge upon police conduct.  One feels brutality has spawned violence and the other apparently feels that over blown publicity about a few questionable abuse of force claims has caused law enforcement to be hesitant to prevent crime.

While the trend in crime is concerning, will the candidates stick to the facts and propose real solutions or will they continue to sling mud?  The answer may come sooner than expected.  Stay tuned.