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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Federal Criminal Prosecutions Fall to 20 Year Low

According to new research released by the PEW research center, federal criminal prosecutions are on the decline. The new numbers show that federal criminal prosecutions have been on a consistent decline since 2011, and have even fallen to a 20 year low. Much of this is credited to the visionary approach implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder to not prosecute every federal crime, but to focus on those where there is a substantial federal interest. Since 2011, there has been an approximate 25 percent reduction in new federal criminal cases. Federal prosecutors have gone from charging over 100,000 new cases a year, to charging about 77,000. The most common type of federal crimes that get prosecuted involve drug charges. Despite the recent trend among states to legalize marijuana, there are many other types of illegal drugs, and federal drug charges still account for the majority of federal prosecutions. However, over the past 5 years, there has been nearly a 25 percent reduction in drug prosecutions alone. Federal Crimes Prosecuted Less Most criminal prosecutions are handled by state and local prosecutors. However, when an individual violates federal criminal laws, such as those related to drugs, guns, or financial crimes, federal prosecutors can bring criminal charges in the federal court system. Also, deportation cases are also considered to be federal criminal prosecutions. Although violent crimes make up only a very small percentage of federal criminal prosecutions, that does not mean violent criminals get a pass. Typically, violent crimes are prosecuted by the states. According to the PEW research center, over half of all state prisoners have been sentenced due to violent crimes, compared to less than 10% of federal inmates. The only area where federal prosecutions were noted to have increased involved a small increase in prosecutions for gun and violent crimes. Looking Forward Although the newly appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is taking a strong stance and wants to increase federal criminal prosecutions for drug and gun crimes, he will have to do so with a shrinking budget as the DOJ is one of the many agencies that has impending budget cuts. Related Resources: Daylight Savings Time Could Reduce Crime Rates (FindLaw Blotter) 10 States With the Highest Rates of Violent Crime (FindLaw Blotter) Gang Membership Up, Violent Crime Rate Down (FindLaw Blotter) What Is a Special Prosecutor? How Does It Relate to Recusal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Can You Sue Your Parents for Child Abuse?

Technically, the law permits a child to sue their parents as a result of child abuse. There are no special rules preventing this type of lawsuit. However, what a child considers to be abuse may not actually be legally considered abuse. Parents are generally permitted to punish their children, which can include depriving children of luxuries such as video games, computers, internet access, a car, dating, seeing friends, or even dessert. A parent can make a child sit in the corner, go to their room, do chores, or worse, babysit their siblings. Depending on the manner in which it is done, even corporal punishment or spankings can be okay in the eyes of the law (so long as they are not excessive) . Why Children Sue Parents Even though it seems rather out of character for a child to sue their parents, it happens. Most frequently, like all lawsuits, it’s about money. Recently, the Canning family’s case in New Jersey made national headlines.The 18-year-old daughter, still in high school, was suing her parents after moving out over disagreements over the house rules. However, the legal complaint that was filed alleged all sorts of objectionable, questionable, and downright deplorable parenting, ranging from crude comments to irresponsible boozing. The matter did not make it very far, particularly after the judge denied the child’s request for an emergency child support order of $650 per week. When to Sue? In every state, the statute of limitations for a minor’s legal claims do not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority. That means that if a state provides a two year statute of limitations on a particular claim, and a child is injured at age 12, they will have 2 years to file their claim after they turn 18 years old. Even if an adult child is suing a parent as a result of sexual abuse, or rape, there will likely be a short statute of limitations of no more than a few years after the child turns 18. Worthwhile to Sue? Regardless of whether the law supports an abused child’s case for damages against their parents, a prospective plaintiff may want to think twice before filing suit. Even assuming that the case is winnable, whether or not a judgment can be collected from a defendant is a wholly different issue. If a parent was convicted of a criminal act related to the abuse, or is presently incarcerated, there is a strong likelihood that any judgment a plaintiff secures won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.To find out if it’s worth your time to pursue a legal claim, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Student Suing Parents Loses 1st Round, but Case Isn’t Over (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) Son Sues Mom, Pop for Overtime at Family Biz (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) Homeless Man Sues Parents for Not Loving Him Enough (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)
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How Much Is a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit Worth?

When it comes to evaluating the value of any injury case, most people understand that bigger injuries correlate to bigger settlements. When it comes to dog bites and animal attacks, the owners will usually be held liable, barring extraordinary circumstances. Not all animal bite cases will be severe injuries, or equate to large monetary damages. Typically, larger monetary awards occur if an animal attack leaves visible scarring, requires surgery extended medical care, or results in the need for mental health therapy, such as PTSD counseling. What’s a Dog Bite Case Worth? An injury settlement or award will generally reimburse an injury victim for their medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and other consequential damages. However, if a person receives a settlement that includes reimbursement for medical bills, they may be required to pay back a health insurer, or even pay outstanding medical bills (if any). A person can also receive monetary compensation for pain and suffering. Usually awards for pain and suffering will depend on the severity of the injury and the extent to which the recovery and injury disrupted a person’s regular life. There is no standardization to the valuation of pain and suffering. When to Sue? After being bitten by a dog, you may be very upset, to the point where you may consider suing simply as a matter of principle. But all strong feelings aside, when should you actually take steps to bring legal action? Is it worth your time to sue? Here are a few points to consider:Frequently, a pet owner’s home-owner’s insurance will provide coverage for dog bites. But, if the pet owner responsible for your injuries is uninsured and has no assets, then there may be no way to actually collect a judgment.The decision not to sue for this reason, however, should be carefully evaluated with the help of an attorney. Also, if you decide not to sue, you may wish to re-evaluate that decision down the road. But be forewarned, most injury claims must be brought within one or two years, depending on your state law. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) How Much is My Pet’s Injury Worth? (FindLaw’s Injured) Housemates Could Be Liable for Dog Bites (FindLaw’s Injured) Dog Bite Injuries: Do You Have a Case? (FindLaw’s Injured)
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7 Common Surgical Errors: When to Sue for Injuries

Any surgery can be dangerous. First, a medical condition that necessitates surgery is generally a serious one. And even mild anesthesia carries risks. After that, a surgeon has to successfully complete the procedure, and then there's closing the wound up and recovery. That's a lot of things that can go wrong, causing serious and even life-threatening injuries. Here are seven of the most common surgical errors that can lead to patient injuries, and when you might have a case for medical malpractice. 1. Catholic Hospital Refuses Transgender Man's Surgery, Gets Sued Can doctors get in legal trouble before a surgical process ever happens? A few lawsuits have caused hospitals with religious directives to alter their stance on transgender and women's health procedures. 2. Robotic Surgery Injury Lawsuit FAQ It's 2017, meaning that not all of your surgeons are human. Robots can offer steadier hands and less fatigue than their human counterparts, but who's liable when they malfunction? 3. Botched or Wrong-Site Surgery Lawsuits: 3 Legal Questions Surgeries on the wrong limb or organ are, tragically, more common than you'd think. These obvious mistakes are clearly grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits, right? 4. 3M Bair Hugger Lawsuits: Surgical Warming Blankets Causing Deadly Infections It goes without saying that you won't be wearing much during your surgery. So how to you stay warm in those notoriously could environments? And what happens if staying warms goes wrong? 5. Man Sues After Waking During Cataract Surgery It might be every surgery patient's nightmare -- waking in the middle and perhaps even feeling what's going on. Anesthesiologists are held to the same standard as any other medical professional. 6. When Can You Sue for Scarring or Disfigurement? Even if the surgery was success overall, the devil may be in the details. Careless suturing of surgical wounds or even malicious scarring can be grounds for a lawsuit. 7. Can You Sue for Plastic Surgery Results You Don't Like? Results matter in any surgery, especially in elective surgery where the goal is perfection. But is being less than perfectly satisfied with the results of plastic surgery grounds for a lawsuit? Related Resources: Injured during surgery? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) 3 Common Medical Mistakes That Can Lead to Malpractice Lawsuits (FindLaw's Injured) 5 Ways Surgery Errors Can Lead to Lawsuits (FindLaw's Injured) Preventable Mistakes Still Happen in Surgery (FindLaw's Injured)
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Cristina Arguedas Presented with 2017 White Collar Criminal Defense Award

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Stetson University College of Law presented Cristina C. Arguedas with the 2017 White Collar Criminal Defense Award this last weekend.  It was an honor to be there and witness both the presentation and her acceptance of the award. Cris Arguedas was awarded this prestigious honor for her work in the FedEx case.  The successful defense of FedEx can only be described as a hero’s tale.  The irony that this defense was spearheaded by a woman and a small team isn’t lost on me. It’s amazing when you really consider the consequences of this win.  Not only is this one of the few times that a corporation has dared to take on the United States Government in a criminal prosecution.  But to consider that the herculean task of defending a corporate case of this size and magnitude was accomplished without an army of lawyers – which is typical in a corporate white collar case – not only speaks volumes about Arguedas but of the importance of mounting a defense at all.  More often than not the army of lawyers aren’t challenging the Government or forcing the Government to trial, but rather are working their way to a negotiated settlement.  It really doesn’t matter how many lawyers are representing a corporation if the evidence remains untested. As I have said before, it is easy to champion a winning theory in a conference room; it is a far different thing to champion it in the courtroom.  And that is exactly what Arguedas did in the FedEx case. The case completely imploded within days after the trial started. I am personally proud that this historical victory was led by one of our sisters in the field.  I have previously shared how much I admire Arguedas – and I am not alone.  She is without question one of the legends in the field.  Barry Pollack, President of NACDL, presented the award and gave a wonderful speech in which he imagined that legends in the field would have their own trading cards that we could collect, with trial victories and stats on the back. Since Arguedas was inducted into the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in 2010 with Penny Cooper – another legend – his analogy was more than appropriate. As would be expected from Cris Arguedas, she accepted the award with grace and humility.  She didn’t take the opportunity to bask in the limelight but rather spoke passionately about the dangerous landscape of corporate criminal prosecutions, which has amounted to nothing short of Government bullying of Corporate America.  She shared with us the amount of pressure that she shouldered to fight against the baseless charges that she confronted in the FedEx case and the amount of painstaking preparation that went into the defense.  Indeed, the trial judge took the unusual step of concluding, on the record at the time of dismissing the charges, that FedEx was “factually innocent.” Arguedas’ acceptance speech was emblematic of everything that makes her great.  She is a true defender in every fiber of her being.  She is a fierce advocate.  The takeaway is that it does not take an army to fight an injustice lobbed by the Government.  Rather, it takes the spirit of a lion and the courage to strike back in defense. It’s that simple. The post Cristina Arguedas Presented with 2017 White Collar Criminal Defense Award appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Female owned law firms may be the ticket for more women to gain first chair experience

In early 2016 Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh left big law to open their own firm in Washington, DC with a male partner in Los Angeles, Wilkinson, Walsh, + Eskovitz. In a recent ABA article, they talked about the lack of women who have experience trying complex cases in the legal field, and their commitment to change that inequity. Wilkinson told the ABA, “[d]ue to many things, there are far fewer women with first-chair trial experience, especially in large or complex cases, and therefore it is difficult for women without that type of experience to get those opportunities.” As of December, they had 30 lawyers and were looking to hire more.  Walsh correctly noted that “[i]f you go through trials enough, you see that things don’t always go perfectly. Beth messes things up. I definitely mess thing up…It’s how you learn.” Walsh shared the story that when she was in a large firm, Wilkinson was the only one willing to let her take an active role in trial and encouraged her that she could do it.  Unfortunately, many women don’t have a Beth Wilkinson that help them gain the necessary trial experience to grow into a first chair trial lawyer. We previously blogged about a report called First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table by the American Bar Foundation and the Commission on Women in the Profession. There is also a Temple University Beasley School of Law study of multidistrict ligation (MDL) appointments and gender.  Its 2016 research found that over a five-year period women made up only 15 percent of the lawyers appointed to first-tier leadership positions, and 19 percent for second-tier leadership positions.  Jaya Ramji-Nogales, a Temple law professor, oversaw the MDL study and chose these types of high profile litigation matters because they are so lucrative and so few women are appointed. Ramji-Nogales said that “[b]asically, these surveys document a phenomena that everyone knows is happening.” Wilkinson has the right attitude about trial experience and why she promotes associates around her being in court as frequently as possible, “[t]he quicker you’ve done your first witness, the easier it is to do your second witness…Every time you stand up, the stress is a little less and the confidence is better. Then you can enjoy the experience and you’re a trial lawyer.” Wilkinson and Walsh hope they can play a role in the increase of women who have first-chair trial experience. “I think you can either complain – which is what I sometimes do – or try to make a difference…[a]nd we’re trying to make a difference,” Wilkinson said. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of both accomplished women.  I was lucky enough to gain extensive trial experience early on working as a public defender and as a member of the CJA panel.  But, gaining this necessary experience is far more challenging in the private sector because women need someone like Wilkinson to take a chance on them.  Until more women have first chair experience, landing the elusive complex case will remain only a possibility, not a probability. Thankfully we have leaders like Wilkinson and Walsh who are willing to stand up and commit to changing these statistics for good. The post Female owned law firms may be the ticket for more women to gain first chair experience appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Interview with Caroline Judge Mehta

Caroline Judge Mehta, a member of Zuckerman Spaeder’s Legal Profession and Ethics Practice in Washington, DC, is an experienced advocate who represents individuals, business organizations, and other entities in criminal, regulatory and administrative investigations. She also advises lawyers and law firms on a variety of issues before the District of Columbia Bar and federal agencies. She has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America and Legal 500 US, in White Collar Criminal Defense. But her day doesn’t end with her legal work; she also writes a blog that’s published on Huffington Post, which she started at age 40. Her topics reflect what’s close to home, she says, and much of them relate to some of the topics in this interview. “Like so many lawyers, I love to write and express myself in ways that briefs and motions don’t allow,” she explains. Our conversation on topics both professional and personal will no doubt strike a familiar chord with many of you. How did you get experience in handling white collar matters? I’ve been so fortunate to be trained by the best trial lawyers anywhere.  I took every meaningful litigation opportunity you can get at a “small” trial firm – civil or criminal – and got on my feet in court every chance I could.  I’m at one of the few firms that wants to train lawyers from the bottom up.  That means pushing young people out in front, early on, making them an equal player on the team in the client’s eyes, and trusting younger lawyers to handle larger and larger portions of cases. What do you see as the biggest hurdle for women in the white collar field? Keeping younger women in the profession.  It’s still an extremely tough tightrope walk, and I get why many women leave.  But we won’t have a healthy white collar bar unless we keep making strides on gender equality.  In the private sector, that means generating business, and it means mentoring and supporting each other and the women of the next generation. Has there been a representation of a client that has most stayed with you through the years and why? I think they all stay with me.  One of the best moments of my life was calling a client who had been the target of a criminal antitrust investigation that dragged on for about four years.  We made a last pitch to DOJ, along with the company’s outside counsel (who both had the temerity to fight and stood up for the individual executives), and we got a declination – and that was after we’d all received target letters.  I reached my client in his car, and he had to pull over because he was overcome with emotion.   There aren’t enough days like that, but when they happen you cherish them and remember why you chose to do this work. What part of defending a client most fuels you? Drains you? Like most of us, I want to win.  But I’m fueled by the challenge of helping a person navigate one of the most difficult crises he or she will face in life.  I get to do everything in my power – a unique power we as lawyers wield in society – to help my client get to the other side of that crisis. And what drains me?  In a way, the very same thing.  You carry that weight with you throughout, and you never put it down.  You’re either on that journey with your client, or you should be in a different line of work. Is there any unique aspect about being a woman that either helps or hinders you when you are defending a client? It’s hard to answer that without falling prey to stereotypes.  But I often observe that women will sit back and listen a lot longer before they insert themselves into the conversation.  You learn a lot more by listening than by talking.  I’ve often had male colleagues ask, “How did you know ___?”  And the answer will be that I heard the client or a witness or an opposing counsel say it. This is a profession in which all of us like to talk, and that’s a lot of the fun of it.  But I always think of that quote by Maya Angelou, who stayed silent for five years after a childhood trauma.  In that time, she read all of Shakespeare, Poe, Kipling, Burns. ...
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