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5 Controversial Medical Treatments Still Used Today

It's easy to look back at medieval medical practices and wonder how they ever thought it would work. Theories about the four bodily humors may seem quaint in retrospect, but given the way medical knowledge and technology evolves, it's almost certain future generations will look back at medicine in our time and similarly wonder what we were thinking. So which controversial medical treatments are still in practice? Here's a look at a few. 1. Removing Part of the Skull to Relieve Pressure in the Brain As WebMD notes, a craniectomy for patients suffering from brain swelling can save a person's life, but also leave them permanently disabled. A recent study found that the procedure "can drastically reduce risk of death, with about 30 percent of patients dying following the procedure compared to 52 percent of those treated with standard medical care," but at the same time, "people treated with a craniectomy were three times more likely to wind up in a vegetative state ... and often were as likely to suffer long-term disabilities as patients receiving standard medical care." 2. Chiropractic Treatments It's a running theme -- among non-chiropractors of course -- that chiropractors aren't medical doctors. And as a recent Pain Science article noted, "The concepts of chiropractic are not based on solid science and its therapeutic value has not been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt." Which is not to say chiropractic treatments don't work, just that their scientific basis hasn't been established. 3. Electroshock Therapy Ernest Hemingway blamed it for his memory loss and diminishing writing ability late in his life. According to Live Science, "Today, the therapy is safer, because patients receive anesthesia and electricity doses are much more controlled ... Still, the treatment can impair short-term memory and, in rare cases, cause heart problems." 4. Leech Therapy If you thought doctors stopped applying leeches to patients in the dark ages, think again. Heathline notes that leech therapy is making a comeback, treating "nervous system abnormalities, dental problems, skin diseases, and infections." Even Demi Moore thinks so. 5. Maggot Therapy Battlefield surgeons first started to notice that injured soldiers would heal more quickly in the field if flies laid eggs in their wounds. Later studies revealed that fly larvae "secrete digestive enzymes that can dissolve the wound's dead and infected tissue, a process known as debridement." Even though the FDA cleared maggots for medical use in 2004, it doesn't sound all that appealing. If you have been injured by a medical procedure, you may be able to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer today to find out if you have a case. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) 5 Signs You May Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney (FindLaw's Injured) Should Doctors Have to Tell Patients If They're on Probation? (FindLaw's Injured) Can You Sue a Doctor for Lying? (FindLaw's Injured)
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Teens Sought After ‘Ice Bucket’ Prank Involving Feces, Urine

A group of Ohio bullies may be facing criminal charges after pulling a vile prank on an autistic teenager under the guise of taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The bullies allegedly convinced the 15-year-old boy to strip down to his underwear to take the challenge in which a bucket of ice is dumped on a person's head. But instead of using ice, the bullies doused the boy with a bucket full of feces, urine, and cigarette butts, reports the New York Daily News. The entire incident was captured on video on the boy's cell phone, and was also posted to Instagram. Police say they are working to identify the teens responsible for the humiliating prank. What charges could these bullies potentially face, if caught? Assault and Battery Although laws vary by state, assault and battery are usually charged in the event of a harmful or offensive contact made or threatened against another person. Assault is typically threatened or attempted harmful or offensive contact with a person, while battery is generally reserved for instances where an actual harmful or offensive contact occurs. In this case, the bullies dumped a bucket full of bodily fluids onto a boy, which would likely constitute criminal battery. Although the boy did initially consent to taking part in what he thought was the Ice Bucket Challenge, by switching out the contents of the bucket, the bullies exceeded the scope of any consent that the boy may have granted them. Ice Bucket Challenges May Lead to Injuries, Lawsuits The Ice Bucket Challenge was started as a way to raise funds and awareness for research into the disease ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. However, after videos of the challenge became wildly popular online, there have been a number of unfortunate incidents linked to the challenge in which participants have been injured, including at least one death, according to the Daily News. In addition to possible criminal charges against Ice Bucket pranksters, victims of unexpected or unwanted Ice Bucket Challenges may have grounds for a civil lawsuit for injuries sustained, as well as the embarrassment caused by posting video of the incident on the Internet.And because the pranksters in the Ohio case are believed to be students, they will likely face school discipline as well, Fox News reports. Related Resources: Ohio cops seek charges in 'ice bucket' prank on autistic teen (Fox News) Can the 'Ice Bucket Challenge' Lead to Injury? (FindLaw's Injured) Senior Prank Gets 60 Teens Arrested in N.J. (FindLaw's Blotter) Feces Attack over Courtroom Restraints Dispute (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Dad Acquitted of Shooting Drunken Driver Who Killed His Sons

A father accused of murdering the drunken driver who killed his two sons was acquitted by a Texas jury. In 2012, David Barajas and his two sons -- David Jr. 12 and Caleb 11 -- were pushing Barajas' truck on a road near their home in Alvin, Texas after the truck ran out of gas. A drunk driver, 20-year-old Jose Banda, plowed into the two boys, killing them. Prosecutors accused Barajas of running home, grabbing a pistol, and fatally shooting Banda in revenge, reports the Houston Chronicle. The jury in Barajas' criminal trial, however, wasn't convinced. Why not? Guilt Must Be Beyond a Reasonable Doubt In any criminal trial, the prosecution my show the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is generally considered doubt that would cause a reasonable person to hesitate before acting in a matter of importance or which prevents a person from saying with moral certainty that a person is guilty of the crime that person is accused of committing. There were several aspects of prosecutors' case against Barajas that could have created doubt in jurors' minds. There were no witnesses to the alleged murder, and police were unable to find the weapon used to kill Banda. In addition, reports the Houston Chronicle, gunpowder tests performed on Barajas' hands came back negative -- which may have indicated if the father had fired a weapon recently. Jury Nullification In some instances, juries faced with convicting a defendant who they believe may have committed a crime but is being unjustly or unfairly prosecuted may choose to acquit the defendant regardless of the facts. This phenomenon is known as jury nullification. In this case, jurors may have sympathized with Barajas, who had watched his two sons killed by a driver, Banda, who was driving with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system. In either event, Barajas' constitutional rights to be free of double jeopardy mean that following his acquittal, he may not be charged for the same crime again, even if police uncover new evidence. Related Resources: Dad Acquitted in Slaying of Driver Who Killed Sons (Houston's KTRK-TV) Stand Your Ground Rejected in TX Murder Case (FindLaw's Blotter) Texas Man Shot, Killed Over Flirtatious Tweet (FindLaw's Blotter) When Can a DUI Be Charged as Murder? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Ga. Dad Indicted on Murder Charges for Toddler’s Hot Car Death

A Georgia father who left his toddler in a hot car, leading to the boy's death, was indicted Thursday on eight counts, including malice murder and felony murder. Justin Ross Harris, 33, had initially pleaded not guilty to murder and child cruelty charges in mid-June, but CNN reports that this new grand jury indictment supersedes the previous charges. Prosecutors have alleged that Harris intentionally strapped his child into his overheated SUV to die, claiming that he "wanted a childless life." What does this new indictment mean for this hot-car murder case? Malice, Felony Murder Alleged The grand jury returned with three counts relating to murder: two counts of felony murder and one count of malice murder. While it is unclear what evidence that the grand jury was presented to come to these charges, since the proceedings are secret, we can explain a bit about these two different types of murder indictments: Malice murder. In Georgia, as in many other states, murder may be proved by showing that the defendant had malice aforethought -- the intention to take the life of another human being -- and caused that person's death. This intent can often be implied by a defendant's actions (or inaction) if the circumstances of the killing "show an abandoned and malignant heart." Felony murder. A separate charge of murder can be applied when a defendant causes the death of another during the commission of a dangerous felony. This charge requires no finding of malice. The jury in Harris' case will likely be asked to consider first-degree cruelty to children as an inherently dangerous felony. These murder charges may leave Harris to face life in prison if convicted, or even the death penalty. Other Charges The grand jury's indictment reveals details that make this macabre story of a toddler's death even stranger. In addition to child cruelty charges, Harris was also indicted on attempt to sexually exploit a minor and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors, reports CNN. Prosecutors allege that Harris was sexting with women while at work -- one of whom was underage. All the while, Harris' son was strapped in a broiling car parked at his father's workplace. With murder charges looming, these sexting allegations seem to be the least of Harris' worries, but they may certainly make it harder for a jury to believe he was a hapless -- and not malicious -- father.Prosecutors are set to discuss the charges at a news conference this afternoon, CNN reports. Related Resources: Ross Harris indicted on murder, 7 additional charges (Atlanta's WSB-TV) Ga. Toddler's Hot Car Death: Why Is Dad Charged With Murder? (FindLaw's Blotter) Baby Dies in Hot Car, Young Father Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter) Dad, 32, Charged in Toddler's Hot Car Death (FindLaw's Blotter)
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DNA Exonerates 2 Men Wrongfully Convicted of Murder

Three decades after being convicted of raping murdering an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina, two mentally disabled half-brothers have been declared innocent and ordered released from prison. The two men -- one of whom was sentenced to death, the other to life in prison -- were convicted based in large part on confessions that the men claimed were coerced and which they immediately recanted, reports The New York Times. What was the new evidence that finally convinced a judge the two men were telling the truth about their innocence? Post-Conviction Analysis of DNA Evidence Similar to other recent overturned convictions, the convictions of Henry Lee McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown were overturned after DNA analysis of evidence collected during the original investigation implicated another man in the crime. In this case the other man was Roscoe Artis, who, according to The New York Times, lived just a block from where 11-year-old Sabrina Buie's body was found. Artis later admitted to raping and murdering a teenage girl. He was convicted and is now serving life in prison for that crime, but has never been charged in relation to Sabrina Buie's death. Case Previously Cited by U.S. Supreme Court Even before the men's exoneration, their convictions had become newsworthy due to the moral divide over death sentences in cases where the defendants are mentally retarded or challenged. Although the Supreme Court denied review of the case, in a dissenting opinion, Justice Blackmun decried McCollum's death sentence as "unconstitutional" given that McCollum "has an IQ between 60 and 69 and the mental age of a 9-year old." Previously, the case had also been cited by Justice Antonin Scalia in his opinion denying certiorari in a different death penalty case, 1994's Callins v. Collins. In his opinion, Scalia described McCollum's death sentence as "enviable" and "a quiet death" compared to the death of Buie. However, now Brown and McCollum's case is equally noteworthy as the latest murder conviction overturned through the use of DNA evidence. According to The New York Times, the men were set to be released from prison today. Related Resources: After 30 years in prison, two mentally challenged men exonerated in North Carolina rape-murder case (The Washington Post) Ohio Man Freed by DNA Evidence After 29 Years in Prison (FindLaw's Blotter) DNA Evidence Clears 2 Men After 30 Years (FindLaw's Blotter) NYC Reviewing 800 Rape Cases for Evidence Errors (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Porch Shooter Gets 17 Years in Prison for Renisha McBride Murder

The Detroit-area "porch shooter" who killed Renisha McBride was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison for her murder on Wednesday. Theodore Wafer was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years for second degree murder, a minimum of seven years for manslaughter, and another two years for a felony firearm penalty, the Detroit Free Press reports. While the sentences for manslaughter and murder may be served concurrently, the firearm punishment must be served separately, giving Wafer at least 17 years in prison to consider his crime. What led the judge in McBride's murder case to sentence her killer this way? Killer Apologizes to Family As he stood before the sentencing court on Wednesday, Wafer offered an apology to McBride's family and friends. According to the Free Press, Wafter apologized from "the bottom of his heart," and he was "truly sorry for [their] loss." This may seem like crocodile tears to many, but how the victim's family views the defendant can have an impact on his sentencing. Victims and their families can often submit victim impact statements, which may sway the judge's determination of how lenient or harsh a sentence to impose. Surprisingly, even in the face of truly heinous crimes of violence, some victims and their loved ones have argued against the harshest punishment for the defendant. In Wafer's case, both McBride's sister and her father were allowed to give victim impact statements, reports the Free Press. Walter Simmons, McBride's father, said the killer "ruined his family's life and asked for the maximum sentence." Determinate v. Indeterminate Sentences There are many options in criminal sentencing, and Wafer was sentenced with a combination of determinate and indeterminate sentencing.Determinate sentences are a punishment with a set amount of years, like Wafer's two-year sentence for felony firearm use. Indeterminate sentences are given as a range of years, with a minimum and maximum amount of time to be served, like Wafer's murder and manslaughter sentences. When the minimum time in an indeterminate sentence has elapsed -- 15 years in Wafer's case -- a prisoner may then be eligible for parole. This means that Wafer won't be likely to be released on parole for at least another 17 years. He could potentially spend as many as 32 years in prison for killing McBride. Related Resources: Man who shot and killed Renisha McBride sentenced to at least 17 years in prison (The Washington Post) Renisha McBride, 19, Killed While Looking for Help (FindLaw's Blotter) Detroit Porch Shooter Convicted of 2nd Degree Murder (FindLaw's Blotter) Homeowner Charged in Renisha McBride's Murder (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Is Intoxication a Defense to Rape?

Although rape can certainly be committed by the use or threat of violent force, the crime of rape encompasses other forms of non-consensual sexual intercourse in which the perpetrator lacks the consent of the victim. California legislators recently passed a law making the standard of consent for sexual activity on that state's college campuses "affirmative consent," meaning both partners must both say "yes" to sex, as opposed to just not saying "no." The bill also makes it clear that neither the victim being too intoxicated to consent, nor the perpetrator being too intoxicated to confirm consent can be used as a valid excuse for lack of affirmative consent. The law's language does raise the question, however: Is intoxication usually a defense to rape? When the Victim is Intoxicated Rape is characterized by the lack of consent given by the victim. But what if the victim is intoxicated to the point where they are unable to provide consent? If the victim is too intoxicated to provide consent, sex with the victim would likely be considered rape by intoxication. Generally, any situation in which the victim is unable to say "no," such as being intoxicated, asleep, or unconscious, may be considered rape if sexual contact occurs. When the Perpetrator is Intoxicated But what about situations in which the perpetrator is too intoxicated to recognize the need to obtain consent or the lack of consent on the part of the victim? As with the majority of crimes, voluntary intoxication will not typically work as a defense. In some instances so-called "involuntary intoxication" -- such as when a person's drink is spiked or he or she is otherwise drugged without knowledge or consent -- may be used as a defense to a criminal act. But generally, any time you voluntarily consume drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances, the crimes you commit while under the influence are still criminal. When Both Victim and Perpetrator are Intoxicated What if both the victim and the perpetrator are intoxicated? Although this may make proving the facts of the incident difficult for law enforcement, regardless of who's intoxicated or how intoxicated they are, the fact remains: Engaging in sexual intercourse without the other person's consent is probably rape. Related Resources: Men Can be Legally Raped: New FBI Definition (FindLaw's Blotter) There is no 'Legitimate Rape,' Legally Speaking (FindLaw's Blotter) Conor Oberst's Rape Accuser Admits She Lied (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) NYC Tourist, 20, Raped in Midtown Manhattan (FindLaw's Blotter)
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White House Shooter Sentenced to 25 Years

The White House shooter was sentenced to 25 years in prison for weapons charges and for placing lives in jeopardy. Although Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho was originally charged with attempting to assassinate the president, but the charges were reduced pursuant to a plea bargain, according to Reuters. Ortega-Hernandez's criminal charges are considered terrorism-related acts. Ortega-Hernandez's Defense Ortega-Hernandez fired shots at the White House back in 2011 because he was convinced that he was on a mission from God to assassinate President Obama. While it was speculated that the White House shooter would offer up an insanity defense, his attorney stated that at the time of the shooting, Ortega-Hernandez was under extreme depression and mental duress, according to Politico. Authorities state that Ortega-Hernandez believed President Obama was the "anti-Christ" and traveled to Washington, D.C. to kill him. However, Ortega-Hernandez's attorney said that his client was convinced that Armageddon was imminent and wanted to warn people about it. Perhaps evidence of Ortega-Hernandez's mental condition is what convinced a judge to give a slightly lighter sentence than the 27.5 years offered by prosecutors. Sentencing If Ortega-Hernandez had been charged with an attempted presidential assassination, he may have faced life in prison. However, the White House shooter pled guilty last year to weapons and terrorism charges. Under federal law, terrorism is defined as calculated actions seeking to influence or affect the conduct of government through intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct. The federal criminal statute includes attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon -- like Ortega-Hernandez's White House shooting. At the same time, if a person willfully and maliciously destroys or injures a U.S. dwelling or places another person's life in jeopardy, that person may be imprisoned for 20 years. Some of the White House shooter's bullets struck the presidential abode -- a bullet was also lodged in a window on the south side of the White House, according to Politico. Secret Service officers were stationed outside the building at the time of the shooting and were also susceptible to being shot. Considering these facts and other factors about the defendant, the judge sentenced Ortega-Hernandez to 25 years in prison. Although the case may seem closed for the 23-year-old, Ortega-Hernandez still has the option to appeal the federal judge's sentence, according to Reuters. Related Resources: Idaho Man Who Fired at White House in 2011 Sentenced to 25 Years (Roll Call) Man's Call to Shoot Obama is Free Speech, Not a Crime (FindLaw's Decided) Ted Nugent Gets Secret Service Attention Over Obama Remarks (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Secret Service Do Anything Illegal in Colombia? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Are There Defenses to Criminal Trespassing?

You can be charged with criminal trespassing when you enter someone else's land or use someone else's chattel without permission or authorization. Police officers, sheriffs, and even park rangers typically enforce criminal trespass law. But there are a few situations in which trespassing charges may be dropped against a defendant. Here are a few common defenses to trespassing: Consent. If the alleged trespasser obtained consent to enter the property or use the chattel, then the trespass was legal. Consent can be given through words, actions, or written permission (for example, a license). The property owner's silence or inaction may also count, if a reasonable person would have spoken up. But the consent isn't valid if you obtained it through fraud (namely, by tricking or coercing the owner). You also can't get valid consent from children, people who aren't legally competent, and folks who are intoxicated. Reclaiming your own property. Under certain circumstances, you're allowed to trespass if you're in the process of recovering property or chattel that rightfully belongs to you. The initial deprivation of your property must either have been the property/chattel owner's fault or an "act of God" such as a storm or wind. Public necessity. A complete defense exists when you have to commit a trespass in order to protect the public during an emergency. There must be an immediate necessity for the trespass and you must have trespassed in genuine good faith that it was to protect public safety. You lose the protection of this complete defense when your trespass becomes unreasonable under the circumstances. Private necessity. Although not a complete defense, private necessity lets you trespass if it's to protect someone (including yourself) from death or serious bodily injury or to protect any land or chattel from serious destruction or injury (if they're animals). Though not guilty of trespass in a private necessity situation, you could still be held civilly liable for any damages that you cause during your trespass -- for example, damage to a property owner's fence if you swerved onto his property to avoid a crash. If you've been charged with trespassing, you'll want to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to explore any defenses that may apply to your situation. Related Resources: Is It Ever Legal to Shoot Trespassers? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Is it Ever Legal to Loot? (FindLaw's Blotter) Can Sneaking Into Movies Get You Arrested? (FindLaw's Blotter) 10 States With the Highest Rates of Property Crime (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Top 5 Legal Tips for Your Bachelorette Party

Many a bride-to-be, celebrating her final days as a single lady, want to let loose at a bachelorette party. Whether it's a low-key dinner with friends, a pub crawl, or something a bit more -- how shall we put it? -- memorable, you want everyone to be having a good time. But before you head out to drink colorful shooters out of test tubes with your bridesmaids, make a vow to remember these five legal tips: Provide a hazard-free environment. If the bachelorette party is being hosted at your house, make sure the area is free of blatant hazards that could injure your guests. Under premises liability laws, property owners are responsible for maintaining a relatively safe environment. For example, if you and your friends decide to take dip in the pool later in the evening, you might want to consider putting rubber mats by the pool to prevent slip-and-fall injuries. You don't want your maid of honor on crutches the day of your wedding, right? The legal drinking age still applies at house parties. Although the bride-to-be should get to call the shots, she certainly shouldn't be serving shots to bridesmaids under the age of 21. If you have bridesmaids who are underage and you decide to serve them some alcohol, you could potentially get arrested: Adults who knowingly furnish alcohol to teens or should have known they were drinking while under their care can get in trouble with the law. What happens at a bachelorette party should stay at a bachelorette party. Yes, bachelorette parties are full of memories and scrapbook-worthy moments, but you should probably keep those photos off of social networks. Publicly posted party fouls could cost people their jobs or even get them arrested. Drunken injuries can result in lawsuits. While you may have immunity from your future spouse to do whatever you want on your girls' night out, bachelorette parties aren't immune to personal injury lawsuits if someone gets injured. For example, one man celebrating his impending marriage ruptured his bladder when a stripper slid down the pole and onto his abdomen. The man sued the strip club for his injuries. Don't forget about your neighbors. One final legal tip for your party is to keep the noise down. Whether it's loud music or voices, you'll want to avoid throwing a party that'll bother the neighbors. Loud bachelorette parties can get you cited by the cops. Bachelorette parties are known to get a little crazy sometimes. If something does go wrong, don't freak out. Instead, contact an experienced local attorney about your legal problem, so your status as a bride-to-be doesn't turn into defendant-to-be. Related Resources: Bachelorette Party Leaves Bride Paralyzed (FindLaw's Injured) Gay Bar Owner Insists Bachelorette Party Ban Not Discriminatory (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Destination Weddings: Legal Issues to Remember (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Getting Married? A FindLaw Legal Checklist (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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