(844) 815-9632


Texas Law Puts Cameras in Special Needs Classrooms

A new Texas law will require cameras in classrooms with special education students and teachers after an investigation revealed questionable practices in some schools, according to a report from National Public Radio. Last year, a video of an 8-year-old autistic child held captive on the floor in a "calm room" resembling a closet -- over his protests -- was publicized. It prompted parents of special education students to demand cameras in classrooms across the state. The Texas law is the first of its kind in the country but it may be the beginning of a new trend in teaching, given the rise of cameras in policing. Child and Teacher Protection Some teachers resent the intrusion, although video could protect them from false accusations of mistreatment. But there are limits on filming in place in the law. Footage cannot be used in teacher evaluations, audio capability is required for context, and cameras are forbidden in bathrooms. The law's critics say Texas missed the opportunity to better train and compensate teachers, rather than spending on educator surveillance. There is concern that cameras will be a strain on school budgets. Not every school has to install them automatically or even at all. But districts must provide cameras upon request by a parent or school staff member. "Teachers are mixed, and the districts don't like the mandates," said Monty Exter, a lobbyist with the Austin-based Association of Texas Professional Educators. The law, which takes effect at the start of the next school year, applies to all of the state's public schools and charters, and to any self-contained classroom in which at least half the students receive special-ed services for at least half the day. A Major Expense The potential expense imposed by the new law is significant, as there are costs beyond camera equipment, such as added servers, microphones, archival capabilities, ceiling mounts, and labor fees. Plus, some rooms may need more than one camera. "We have to figure out how to store the video and audio, and that's a very expensive thing to do," said Robbie Stinnett, a director of special education for the Duncanville Independent School District. She says she has already received requests for cameras from three parents and expects more. "Schools are stretched," Stinnett said. "If [a bill] becomes law, it needs to be funded, because public education isn't funded well enough to add stuff on top of it." Consult With Counsel If you have a child with special needs, speak to a special education lawyer. Consult with counsel and get help even if you do not suspect mistreatment. A lawyer can help you secure the services your child needs at school. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer (FindLaw Directory) Disability Access to Education (FindLaw) Selecting a Special Education Lawyer (FindLaw)
continue reading

5 Best Cities for Working After Retirement

When you're 30, you can't wait until the day you can retire and spend your days sipping Pina Coladas on a white sand beach. When you finally retire at 65 or 67, suddenly you miss going to work every day. Either you're restless or didn't save up enough for retirement, and now you want to return to work in retirement. Here are the best cities, according to US News, for working after retirement: Best Cities for Working After Retirement Some cities are filled with youngsters and start-ups. Other cities are more senior friendly: Washington D.C. -- More than one-third of the over 60 population in Washington, D.C. Most people find jobs with the federal government and contractors. Salt Lake City, Utah -- If you like education jobs or government positions, Salt Lake City is great place to work after retirement. Over 33 percent of the senior citizen population in Salt Lake City are still employed. Bridgeport, Connecticut -- Bridgeport is a great city for older workers in the health care industry. Omaha, Nebraska -- A little less than 33 percent of seniors work in Omaha. Austin, Texas -- The economy is strong in Austin with big tech companies offering plenty of jobs. A little over 32 percent of seniors continue working after age 60. Obstacles to Working After Retirement As you continue working during your retirement, you may encounter a few obstacles such as age discrimination or reduced social security payments. Age Discrimination Sadly, many senior workers have had to deal with age discrimination in the workplace. However, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against employees or potential employees older than 40 years of age. Refusing to hire an applicant or firing an employee solely because of age is age discrimination. Making harassing comments about someone's age can also be age discrimination. If you are being discriminated against because of your age, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Social Security Retirement Benefits If you are able to continue working or get a new job after retirement, just be aware that you may be giving up money to make money. You can still work and collect Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you retired before full retirement age off 65-67, the Social Security Administration may reduce your retirement benefits by about one-third to one-half of your outside earnings. If you are being discriminated against at work because of your age, consult with an experienced employment attorney for help. Related Resources: Browse Employment Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) After an Age-Discrimination Claim, What Happens? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) When Can I Retire? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Tips for Older 'Encore Entrepreneurs' (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
continue reading

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Claire Rauscher and Karen Popp on Duke Energy Team

Two of our own, Claire Rauscher of Womble Carlyle and Karen Popp of Sidley Austin were part of the team that represented Duke Energy in the recent corporate plea and sentence to criminal violations under the Clean Air Act. Claire Rauscher and her partner James Cooney of Womble Carlyle represented Duke Energy from the outset. A multi-jurisdictional investigation by both state and federal agencies began after a 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River in North Carolina. That investigation finally resulted in criminal charges being filed earlier this year. Karen Popp was added to the team of lawyers representing Duke, and when she entered a notice of appearance, it certainly caught the media’s attention. Just this month the company entered a guilty plea to nine misdemeanor counts for ash-related violations at five power plants. Some of the counts were directly related to the Dan River spill but others were related to ash violations at other plants. The company was sentenced to five years probation and was fined $68 million, reportedly the largest fine ever imposed under the Clean Water Act. In addition the company is required to spend $34 million toward environmental projects in North Carolina and Virginia. Duke Energy made a wise choice to assure that at least half of their team of lawyers were women. So often, as was the case here, companies are dealing with women on the prosecution side of the table, and building a diverse defense team is important. And the company couldn’t have found more experienced women in the white-collar field then Claire Rauscher and Karen Popp. Anyone that knows federal court knows that a plea to misdemeanors, regardless of whether you are an individual or a big company, means there was some fine lawyering on the defense side. I am excited to see that women are and will continue to be involved in the biggest white-collar cases around the country. Congrats to both Claire and Karen for a job well done! The post Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Claire Rauscher and Karen Popp on Duke Energy Team appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
continue reading

5 Legal Tips for Sexual Assault Victims

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an effort to educate the public about the crime, its consequences, and how to prevent it. Sexual assault occurs when a person forces you to participate in sexual contact without your consent. It can have devastating and long-lasting effects on a victim, but victims should try to remember that legal protections are in place to help them on their road to recovery. Here are five tips for sexual assault victims to keep in mind when seeking help from the legal system: Report your attack to the police. You are encouraged to report any sexual assault, rape, dating/partner violence, domestic violence, stalking and/or hate crimes. Authorities will investigate your complaint and help you move forward with criminal charges. That being said, filing a police report does not necessarily mean that you have to press criminal charges. You may need a restraining order. A restraining order is a court-ordered tool used to stop someone from engaging in threatening behavior. When you decide you want to request a restraining order, you should make a list of all of the threatening or intimidating behaviors you want to stop. Specific examples are important. Know your rights as a victim. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you have the right to make your own choices about how to respond to what has happened to you. Don't be afraid to tell your attorney how you want to approach your situation. What to do at trial. A trial can be an overwhelming experience and cause you to re-live memories of your assault. But there are certain steps you can take to ease the painful and emotionally exhausting process of coming face-to-face with your attacker. A lawyer may be a big help. Through direct legal services, a sexual assault attorney can not only help you in your case, but also help protect your mental health, medical, and education records. Your attorney can also help restore the necessities of your life -- housing, employment, education, public benefits, privacy, safety, and, in some cases, citizenship and immigration. To learn more about sex-related offenses, you may want to explore FindLaw's section on Sex Crimes. Related Resources: State Sexual Assault Laws (FindLaw) Military Sex-Assault Reform Bill Fails in Senate (FindLaw's Blotter) Ex-Teacher Andrea Cardosa Charged in Sex Abuse Case (FindLaw's Blotter) Man in Beer Pong League Charged With Sex Abuse (FindLaw's Blotter)
continue reading

Iraq Vet to Get $4.5M for Occupy Oakland Shooting

An Iraq vet whose skull was fractured by a projectile shot by police during an Occupy Oakland protest has agreed to receive $4.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit with the city of Oakland. During the protest, 26-year-old Scott Olsen was hit in the head by a beanbag round fired by a police officer standing less than 30 feet away from him, The Associated Press reports. The large settlement amount stems from a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of Olsen's injuries and the negligent training of the officers. Why Not Go to Trial? Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said that a jury might have awarded Olsen more money if the case had gone to trial. So why didn't Olsen and his attorney go to trial? People opt to settle cases before trial for a variety of reasons. In this case, it seems a settlement was more preferable because the litigation was taking a toll on Olsen. As he said, "It's been very a very difficult two and a half years for me, everything from being in the hospital, to relearning how to talk to dealing with a lawsuit, that's been a lot of stress." Trials are tough on people. The litigation process can be long and exhausting. Even though going to trial might have secured Olsen a larger damages award, he and his attorney were likely keen on reaching a quicker resolution so that he could move on and focus on his health. Why $4.5M Settlement? Because of the beanbag shooting, Olsen suffered permanent brain injuries and has not been able to return to his career as a computer systems administrator. He had to relearn how to walk and talk, the AP reports. The damages stemming from Olsen's injuries played a central role in the large settlement award. They included economic damages -- such as lost wages and past, present, and future medical costs -- as well as noneconomic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering. Another major factor in the settlement was the police officers' use of excessive force. An independent study in June 2012 reported that police were ill-equipped to handle the Occupy Oakland protest because of inadequate staffing as well as poor planning and training, according to The AP. The tragic injury will affect Olsen for the rest of his life, but the $4.5 million award is designed to help ease the financial burden of his arduous road to recovery. Related Resources: Oakland to pay Iraq War vet $4.5 million for Occupy shooting (Oakland Tribune) Can Occupy Oakland Vet Sue Police for Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) 2 Occupy Protestors File Excessive Force Suit (FindLaw's Injured) UC Davis Pepper Spray Suit Settled for $1M (FindLaw's Injured)
continue reading

ABAJ: Lawyer suspended for posting video of undercover drug buy in mistaken belief it exonerated client [it didn’t]

ABAJ: Lawyer suspended for posting video of undercover drug buy in mistaken belief it exonerated client by Debra Cassens Weiss: An Illinois lawyer will be suspended for five months for posting a discovery video of an undercover drug buy in the initial but apparently mistaken belief that it exonerated his client. Lawyer Jesse Raymond Gilsdorf was suspended in an Illinois Supreme Court order issued on March 14. The court agreed with the five-month-suspension recommendation by the Review Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
continue reading

NLJ: Judiciary Hiring Public Defenders Again

NLJ: INADMISSIBLE: Judiciary Hiring Public Defenders Again: Federal defender offices, which lost approximately 400 employees because of last year's mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, have enough money in this year's budget to begin backfilling most of those positions, court officials said on March 11.
continue reading

Been There, Done That Dept.: NYT: A Dragnet at Dewey & LeBoeuf Snares a Minnow

NYT: A Dragnet at Dewey & LeBoeuf Snares a Minnow by James Stewart: How did a 29-year-old with an impeccable record, someone who had never even taken an accounting course, end up as an accused mastermind of what the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., called 'a massive effort to cook the books' of the once-giant law firm? And how did he get there without realizing he should hire a lawyer? According to several criminal defense lawyers I spoke to this week, Mr. Warren became caught up in an increasingly common prosecutorial tactic. Mr. Warren may have been naive, but he thought he was being questioned as part of a civil Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. He thought he might be a witness, and thus did not need a lawyer. Only too late did it dawn on him that he might be a target of a criminal investigation. The defense lawyers said prosecutors were increasingly using so-called parallel investigations to insert criminal investigators into what their targets thought were civil proceedings. The SEC will lie to you about what they have planned for you. They did to me.
continue reading