Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 Case Results

Recent Case Results --- 2013 Settlement : Excessive Force case ---mediation --settled claims against a University and Police Department Not Guilty : Assault 3rd ---- Client found not guilty in an assault case. Officer never interviewed the alleged victim. *These are just examples of results. We cannot guarantee any results in any case.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It is illegal for law enforcement to release juvenile records

It seems like it would be common sense that you cannot release juvenile records. It's also against the law in the state of Alabama Furthermore, the Code of Alabama 12-15-134 (f) - states that
Except as provided in this section, whoever directly or indirectly discloses or makes use of or knowingly permits the use of information described in this section that identifies a child, or the family of a child, who is or was under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, upon conviction thereof, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor under the jurisdiction of the juvenile Court.
However, that hasn't stopped law enforcement from releasing juvenile records to newspapers, school boards, publishers of mug shot magazines, etc. Juvenile records are sealed as a matter of policy and should remain so from the public. There are rare instances where juvenile records can be examined but those are generally only with permission of the court. Law enforcement cannot simply release juvenile records to whomever the choose. If this has happened to you or your child you may have a case against law enforcement for invasion of privacy as well as other possible intentional torts.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recent case result : not guilty on public intoxication

Recently we represented a client charged with public intoxication. The officer could not articulate why he believed that the defendant was intoxicated and how he could cause harm to himself or others which is required in these cases. The officer never gave the defendant a breathalyzer or administered any sobriety tests. Furthermore a witness testified that the defendant had not been drinking. After a brief trial the judge ruled not guilty.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two year statute of limitations on cases

One of the first question I ask prospective clients when they call about civil matters is when did the incident happen. While we need to learn what is alleged to have happened there may be nothing that we can do to help if the statute of limitations has run. In order to preserve your case it is always best to discuss the matter with an attorney right after the incident happens. There are a number of other reasons to take action immediately. For example, if you have been injured in a car wreck as a result of another driver acting negligently it is important that pictures are taken of the damage and recollections of the event are recorded. If the case involves a local or state government there are more specific rules regarding preserving your claim. A notice of claim must first be filed within 6 months to a year of the incident. Don't wait until it's too late to take action.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Municipal Courts Creating Debtors Prisons

Debtor's prisons have been illegal for years right? Well, not exactly if you look at some of the practices in municipal courts. The town of Harpersville, Alabama has been criticized for some very unsavory practices that lead to a number of folks incarcerated simply because they could not pay a debt. Fortunately, Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Hub Harrington, stepped in and halted those practices with a recent court order.
The judge found evidence that the city would turn over to the private probation company, Judicial Corrections Services, cases in which Municipal Court defendants could not immediately pay the court-imposed fine and costs. Many defendants later were locked up, some on bogus failure-to-appear complaints, resulting in more charges that led to more fines, court costs -- and more debt, the judge wrote.
Unfortunately, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg as there are several other towns and cities in the State of Alabama that are said to have similar practices. The good news is that the Harpersville situation will likely encourage others who have been in this predicament to speak up and expose those practices.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Excessive Force Cases

We get a number of calls about potential excessive force cases. However, we only are able to take on a handful of these cases each year for a number of reasons. A couple of observations we would like to share and some factors that we consider when we evaluate a case: 1. In Alabama it is very tough to pierce the veil of immunity that the State and the Counties are afforded. While the standards of immunity for municipal governments is lower it still can be difficult. 2. We generally only file excessive force cases in Federal Court.Generally, Federal Court cases are more expensive. 3. Law enforcement officials often fail to follow procedure in using force but unless there are quantified physical damages it makes it a very difficult case for us to handle and receive any sort of settlement for our clients. 4. It is very hard to have a successful case without witnesses to the action. If someone witnesses an action it is recommended that you obtain all their contact information immediately. 5. These cases take months to investigate before we can make a decision as to if a lawsuit is warranted.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rodney King passed away this weekend. His death has given us time to pause and reflect on how the incident of his beating which was videotaped has affected our society. The LAPD got a black eye from their handling of the Rodney King videotaped beating. This is perhaps the first great example of something caught by a citizen journalist going viral through the media outlets. Now it's not uncommon for something that is caught to explode via You Tube. But twenty years ago, we weren't that sophisticated. My recollection of the beating was dismay and sadness. I thought, "How could the police beat somebody up like that?". Now, I realize that it was far too common back then and far too common even now. Perhaps now the incidents have a greater chance of getting seen by someone with an camera phone. How many people were stopped and beaten over the years where all evidence disappeared? The King incident triggered the L.A. riots as the officers who attacked him were acquitted. So sadness turned to misplaced anger and then I believe a few years later were the catalyst for O.J. Simpson to be found not guilty by a California jury. Rodney King could have been anyone, black white or hispanic. That's what made his story so powerful. As he died at a young age yesterday we see a man who never recovered from these events. He faced a number of criminal charges over the next couple of decades and could not kick his addictions. Hopefully, as we reflect over the next few days we will ponder if these events in the 1990's had any long term effect on race relations today.