I provide free consultations for potential clients every day. In doing so, it has become quite clear people need some guidance regarding how best select a lawyer. I am seeing way too many examples of individuals with significant buyers' remorse after they chose to hire attorneys who simply do a poor job. In reality, there are a number of firms / attorneys in the Charlotte market that simply do a bad job. Unfortunately, the complex nature of the legal profession can make it difficult for the general public to decipher who such individuals are. Therefore, I wanted to offer a few suggestions.
The legal profession is currently grappling with several issues: diversity of the bar, bar-exam pass rates, and accreditation standards for law schools. The American Bar Association (ABA) wants to raise the standard for passing the bar exam. The ABA proposal would require 75% of a law school's graduates who sit for a bar exam to pass the test within two years. This proposal comes in response to a nationwide trend of declining bar scores. The ABA proposal has drawn fierce opposition, particularly from the largest nationwide black law student association. The expressed concern is over potential impact on schools with high minority student populations. The organization asserts the proposal would “jeopardize the existence of traditionally minority law schools and ultimately erase the profession's modest gains in diversity over the last several decades,”. The organization opposing the regulation includes Deans from Howard University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, and Florida A&M University. The ABA currently requires law schools to report bar-exam passage rates of at least 70% of its graduates (who took the exam for the first time) during the prior calendar year. Many of the schools opposing the ABA's proposal are reporting current passage rates in the 60% - 70% range. It's important to note the ABA's reporting requirement is currently flawed: it doesn't require schools to provide full / accurate data. Schools can clearly hide negative results; they only have to report 70% of it's students; they only have to report "first-time" exam takers, etc. Even with these flaws, these schools still have poor passage rates.
The North Carolina recently enacted S.L. 2016-94 (H 1030). The specific provisions noted below have varying dates of applicability, and address several topics. I thought it noteworthy to point out a few of these provisions to indicate what our elected representatives are up to. After all, we all too often fail to pay attention to what these elected officials are actually doing. Meanwhile, they pass numerous laws that actually affect our daily lives; many of which make very little practical sense.
Haruki Nakamura played safety for the Carolina Panthers in 2013. During a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mr. Nakamura suffered a concussion. Following the injury, he suffered severe headaches, blurry vision, and mood swings, which are all common symptoms of severe concussions. The injury ultimately ended Mr. Nakaumura's career. Mr. Nakamura applied for benefits through the NFL's Player Retirement Plan. In 2015, it was established he suffered chronic post concussion syndrome, and he was eligible for total and permanent disability benefits of $10,000 per month. Dr. Michael Collins (director of the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine) determined the form Panther's safety is permanently disabled and likely has no hope of improvement sufficient to resume employment as professional football player. Prior to the 2012 season, Mr. Nakumura took out a one million dollar insurance policy with Lloyd's of London. Thereby, he paid premiums to protect his interests. In a typical move, the insurer has denied Mr. Nakamura's claim. The basis: the insurer claims he failed to establish the 2013 concussion had solely and independently led to his permanent disability. The insurer utilized a paid defense expert (Dr. Manish Fozdar) to dispute the medical evidence favoring Mr. Nakamura. Dr. Fozdar opined the concussion was minor, stating such would not lead to major depression. He further opined the Plaintiff showed clear evidence of symptom exaggeration.
The North Carolina General Assembly recently enacted S.L. 2016-88 (H 972). This legislation addresses the disclosure by law enforcement of body-worn and dashboard camera audio / video. This bill amends N.C.G.S 132-1.4A, which addresses when Police must or may disclose audio / video captured by body cameras, dash cameras, or another other recording device operated by law enforcement, or on its behalf, when carrying out law enforcement responsibilities. The new law is effective October 01, 2016, applying to all requests made on / after such date.
Does the following drug test seem acceptable for Police to utilize? The kit utilizes a single tube of a chemical (cobalt thiocyanate), which turns blue when exposed to cocaine. However, cobalt thiocyanate also turns blue when it is exposed to over eighty (80) other compounds (including methadone, acne medications, and common household cleaners). Other kits use three tubes. The Police officer must break the tubes in a specific order to rule out everything but the drug in question. If the officer breaks the tubes in the wrong order, the error can invalidate the results. With either above-noted kits, various problems remain. Cold temperatures slow the chemical reactions, while hot temperatures speed them. Extreme temperatures can negate the proper chemical reaction. Various lighting issues also interfere with proper analysis of the results, including: poor lighting at the scene, Police lights, glare from various light sources, etc. Furthermore, the distracted officer is often addressing numerous issues on the scene while simultaneously conducting this science experiment. No central agency regulates the manufacture or sale of the testing kits. No comprehensive records are kept about the use of the testing kits. At least nine different companies manufacture / sell testing kits to identify cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, LSD, MDMA, etc. In 2000, The Justice Department issued guidelines calling for test-kit packaging to carry warning labels, including “a statement that users of the kit should receive appropriate training in its use and should be taught that the reagents can give false-positive as well as false-negative results,”. As of 2016, three (3) of the largest manufacturers had not printed such a warning on their packaging. In the past three years, people arrested based on false-positive field tests have filed civil lawsuits in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and California. Three of the four cases also named the manufacturers Safariland Group or Sirchie as defendants. The plaintiffs in each of the suits were arrested based on this testing, refused to plead guilty, and were detained for at least a month. Three of the cases have already settled. “Police officers aren’t chemists. We shouldn't be doing field tests on the hood of patrol cars.” —Charles McClelland, former Houston Police Chief "In such drug-possession cases, when the prosecutor doesn’t have a lab report, if I’m that judicial officer, this case is continued — adjourned — until everybody can do their job. David LaBahn, president of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
Turbeville, South Carolina is a small little town in Clarendon County. It is one of those towns on U.S. 378 you pass through on the way to greater Myrtle Beach area. However, Turveville has a distinct reputation: it's a giant speed trap. So much so, the city is defending a class action lawsuit. In 2003, Turbeville passed a town safety ordinance, allowing it to write traffic tickets with higher fines than normal South Carolina traffic tickets. The town then keeps the money from the citations. Financial statements included in the lawsuit document the town has recovered approximately $1 million per year in traffic fines over the last 13 years. Turbeville Police average more citations than cities roughly 20 times the size of the town. From December 2014 to November 2015, Turbeville Police wrote approximately 203 tickets a month. During peak beach season (May - August), the average jumped to 245 per month. Turbeville's population is 804 accordingly to the U.S. Census Bureau.
On June 27, 2016, North Carolina enacted House Bill 958, also known as Sheyenne's Law. The law will take effect December 01, 2016, and will apply to offense committed on / after that date. Sheyenne Marshall, a 17-year-old high school student in Concord, North Carolina, was killed the July 4th, 2015 weekend on Lake Norman in a boating accident. The driver of the boat that struck Ms. Marshall was charged with impaired boating. The Marshall family pressed for amended legislation following the accident to increase the punishment for impaired boating , where such results in serious injury or death to the victim. The basic components of the statute are: (a) unintentional cause of the death / injury; (b) proof the Defendant was engaged in impaired boating pursuant to N.C.G.S. 75A-10(b)(1); (c) the offense is the proximate cause of the death / serious injury.
Pursuant to S.L 2016-10 (H.B. 357), North Carolina has implemented some slightly different procedures for breath & blood test evidence admissibility in DWI cases. These changes will take effect for trials commencing on / after October 01, 2016. N.C.G.S. 20-139.1(a) governs the admissibili...
Reinhold Hanning (94 years old) was convicted on June 17, 2016 in Detmold, Germany of 170,000 counts of accessory to murder as a result of his service an Auschwitz death camp guard. It is estimated 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz. Mr. Hanning worked at the camp for roughly two and a half years. The Defendant faced a maximum of 15 years incarceration. The prosecutor sought 6 years, while the Defendant argued the lack of evidence against him personally warranted an acquittal. Prosecutors in Germany are currently pursuing these accessory to murder cases under the theory that guards enabled the operation of the death camps, and they are therefore guilty of accessory to murder even in the absence of evidence the Defendant specifically murdered individuals. Mr. Hanning is expected to appeal his conviction, and he will not serve any active sentence pending appeal. Germany's highest appeals court is expected to rule on the appeal of Oskar Groening, convicted of 300,000 counts of accessory to murder this summer. That ruling will provide a critical determination whether Germany's prosecutors are going to be successful in further endeavors utilizing this accessory to murder theory. So, this German trial is interesting, but what does it have to do with us? Well, more than you think. First, there is no statute of limitations for murder in North Carolina. I presume the same is true in Germany.
NPR and the PBS series Frontline has spent several years mining documentation to investigate the National Flood Insurance Program. What exactly is this? Basically, it's the system designed to address natural disasters and administrate insurance claims. Here is the stunner (not so surprising to...
Turn on your TV for thirty minutes. I'll bet you'll see several auto insurance commercials. I'll also bet those commercials each focus on price competition. Why? Auto insurance is expensive, and people hate paying for insurance. Here is the problem: people generally carry way to little auto insurance. Personal injury victims sometimes learn very difficult lessons regarding the lack of adequate auto insurance coverage. Let's look at some practical ways you may be able to keep your auto insurance reasonable. First, you should understand some basics regarding how your rates are set. In North Carolina, you are required to carry a minimum $30,000 of liability coverage. The minimum liability coverage in South Carolina is $25,000. In North Carolina, insurance companies utilize your credit files to predict the likely you will file a claim. While this seems unfair, it's legal. Thus, your credit is important. Some insurance companies also utilize other information. For instance, some companies analyze accident rates in Charlotte (for instance) to set prices for local drivers. Therefore, a Charlotte driver may pay more than a similarly situated Winston Salem driver.
The Court of Appeals recently decided State v. Bullock, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (May 10, 2016). The Court held the officer unreasonably extended a traffic stop, and reasonable suspicion did not support extending the stop. The Court further held that because the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to extend the stop, whether the defendant may have subsequently consented to a search is irrelevant as consent obtained during an unlawful extension of a stop is not voluntary.
I suspect the vast majority of people would answer affirmatively to the question: Do you have the right to legal counsel in a criminal matter in Charlotte, North Carolina? I suspect the response would be a simple, unequivocal "yes". In reality, your right to legal counsel is under a steady attack. Your right to legal counsel is dwindling right under your nose, and you may not even know it. Why is this occurring? Let's look at several factors.
In 1990, the authors of Sponsorship Strategy: Evidentiary Tactics for Winning Jury Trials proposed a different approach for attorneys to addressing difficulties at trial. The conventional wisdom has long been that you should strongly consider introducing negative information on direct examination. You have the ability to somewhat control the narrative with this approach. For example, a lawyer may want to address a client's prior criminal history where such is going to be revealed to the jury. Perhaps a lawyer would want to explain a client's prior medical issues on direct examination in a civil case.
On April 19, 2016, The North Carolina Court of Appeals held the warrantless taking of blood from a DWI suspect violates the 4th amendment, despite North Carolina law permitting the officer's action. See State v. Romano, __ N.C. App. __ (2016). In Romano, Police responded to a call for service ...
We've all encountered that long funeral procession. You typically see such when you're in a hurry. Despite such, most of us pull to the side of the road and politely show our respect by waiting for those mourning the death of their loved one to pass. However, do you really know the North Caro...
On Saturday (03/26/16), and American Airlines flight from Detroit, MI to Philadelphia, PA was cancelled after one of the pilots was arrested. A TSA agent notified the Police of suspicious activity. Subsequently, the pilot failed breathalyzer tests administered by local authorities. The relevant ...
Two horrific crashes have raised concerns of driver safety on I-85 South recently. The first crash occurred on July 13th near the Statesville Road exit after a tractor trailer rear ended a SUV in front of it.
The NAACP called a press conference on July 16, 2012 to address their concerns with two Hendersonville police officers' actions during a shooting that occurred on March 9. 2012.
As of June 30, 2012, more than 3,700 retired NFL players, including ex-Panther Stephen Davis, have initiated a total of 94 lawsuits against the NFL.
Charlotte workers have two primary choices for governor in the upcoming election. They can vote for Walter Dalton or Pat McRory. I am a Charlotte workers' compensation lawyer; I represent people injured on the job. I don't hide that fact; I'm proud of it.
As a Charlotte workers' compensation attorney, I certainly applaud the legislature's attention to this issue. The issue of employers operating without workers' compensation insurance is a problem that Plaintiff's attorneys have pointed out for years without any assistance from elected officials.
On a June 22, 2012, an eight year boy from York, South Carolina was attacked by a Chow. According to witnesses, the dog was on his leash in a neighbor's yard when the attack occurred.
As indicated in previous blogs, workplace safety has declined in North Carolina over the past decade, leading to an increase in workers' compensation injuries and fatalities.