Monday, March 6, 2017

Silent Killer Taking Children's Lives? ~by Legal Pub

Are one in four childhood deaths attributable to smog, unsafe water and other environmental hazards?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported findings that suggest pollution is a major factor in 25% of the deaths of children.   Report.   Logic suggests that a polluted environment has a disparate affect on children's health.   Pollution.  Second hand smoke, smog and unsafe water are thought to be related to as much as 25% of the deaths of children under age five.   "[Young children's] developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

Statistics suggest that 570,000 children died with respiratory infections like pneumonia that were  attributable to second-hand smoke and/or pollution.   Data suggests that 361,000 were killed by diarrhea attributable to unclean water and/or improper sanitation.  270,000 premature infants died in their first month.  A significant percentage of this group was also adversely effected by unclear water and air.

WHO indicates that electronic waste that exposes children to mercury, lead and other toxins also kills children. Climate change which has increased pollen counts may also be "associated with increased rates of asthma in children," according to WHO.  Assuming these statistics are correct, who is going to step up and stop this silent killer?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Neil Gorsuch the Right Choice for U.S. Supreme Court? ~by Legal Pub

President Trump will nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.  But will he be confirmed? Judge Gorsuch is a 49-year-old federal appellate judge from Colorado.  By nominee standards, he is very young.  In theory, this would provide the court with a conservative view for many years to come. Gorsuch believes in freedom of religion, the ending of federal funds for contraceptives and a separation of powers between the states and federal government.  Consequently, Senate Democrats will likely filibuster to attempt to block his nomination.  But could the Democrats end up with someone worse? 
During the campaign, Donald Trump said he would "find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court."  Voters thought this was the most important issue facing the country.  Gridlock has caused the Supreme Court to function using only eight justices since Justice Antonin Scalia's death. If confirmed, Gorsuch has similar views to Justice Scalia and therefore some stability would be preserved.  (This would consist of four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as a moderate.)  
So, should he be confirmed?  Perhaps that is a significantly different question than will he be confirmed?


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Child Abuse in Halifax? ~by Legal Pub

Child discipline v. child abuse.  Where is the line drawn?  It is somtimes difficult to distinguish the two unless you see a case of classic abuse.  One such case appears to be the neglect of three Halifax children, ages 4,5 and 6.  Joshua Ross Weyant and Brandi Jene Weyant, of Halifax Township in Pennsylvania have been accused by State Police and Dauphin County Children and Youth Services of neglecting and abusing their children. "The kids were starving, nothing more than skin and bones," said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico to the media.
The children were apparently abused over a three-month span by their parents in a home that allegedly had no heat.  The four and five year old had bruises consistent with physical abuse.  The children were under weight and appeared to be suffering from malnutrition.  There were apparently 10 individuals living in the Weyant household.  The six year old boy sported an abrasion near the eye which allegedly came from his father throwing him across the floor. The children were allegedly locked in their room and had to pound on the wall to be let out to use the bathroom.
In speaking with the police, Brandi allegedly said that she was not the biological mother of the children. She claims that her husband forced her to withhold food from the children. She also denies being the one who kept the children “locked up.”  Neighbors claim that they did not even know that children lived in the residence. On the other hand, Joshua claims that the children were regularly seen by a mental health case worker who should be able to refute some of the allegations.
The children were taken to Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center emergency room for care.  While the children were in poor health and underweight, they should recover, at least physically. The couple has been charged with aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, and endangering the welfare of children.   Keep in mind, all suspects are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law!

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.