Should Capital Punishment End?

In most developed countries, the death penalty no longer exists as a response to violent crime. And that makes sense. Why would a civilized society put anyone to death? The most popular argument in favor of the death penalty is a simple one: it brings the families of victims closure. Great. But the violent offender probably found joy in committing the crime. Why is it any better than the families of victims find joy in an execution?

It might sound cold, but civilization runs smoothly when we separate ourselves from the animals. When we resort to our baser instincts, things tend to run far less smoothly.

Society is rife with these types of problems. Insurance is supposed to protect people from the financial effects of a disease like COVID-19 — but people lost their jobs and insurance literally because of COVID-19’s effect on the economy, and then went bankrupt as a result. How twisted is that? Incarceration works similarly in the United States. We incarcerate people in facilities run by for-profit organizations, which means they get paid for each new inmate they’re able to take. This gives them a great reason to keep people incarcerated. Make sense? Nope.

A UMBC website ran an opinion piece written by Lauren Gantman arguing for the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. She wrote: “There is no ethical way to kill another human being, and even more concerning, there is no guarantee that a fair trial has been conducted to deliver an inmate to death row.”

Gantman shares the National Academy of Science’s statistic that an appalling four percent of those convicted and sent to death row are actually innocent of the crimes for which they were accused. 

Lauren wrote: “In his final moments, Dustin Higgs, convicted of bullying co-conspirator Willis Mark Haynes into killing three women in 1996, asserted his innocence. Although Haynes states in an affidavit that Higgs had no part of influence in the murders, on January 16, Higgs became the thirteenth and final federally executed inmate under former President Trump.”

One study in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies found that juries find Black defendants guilty at an 81 percent rate while they find white defendants guilty at a 66 percent rate — when there are no Black jury members, of course. Which leads us to the obvious: there is a disparity between what constitutes “justice” depending on a person’s ethnicity. African Americans suffer from unfair prosecution more than their white counterparts, and it needs to stop. The first step might be ending capital punishment before anyone else innocent can be put to death.

What are the alternatives? First, we need to create a system that incarcerates only those who are an actual danger to society — and people who smoke or deal pot don’t fit into that category. Second, we need to focus on changing the underlying conditions that result in criminality, i.e. poverty and lack of education. Third, we need to add another focus on allowing those in prison to feel productive when it might otherwise be impossible.

What Are The Five Basic Types Of Probation?

Probation is often an alternative to literal punishment employed by the criminal justice system when it deems a particular offender is either nonviolent (not a threat to society) or unlikely to reoffend. Often, they are paired with more productive forms of punishment such as community service. Probation is supervisory in nature. The subject on probation must abide by the law, remain employed, and usually uphold a strict code of conduct that might include a curfew, educational programs, and regular meetings with a probation officer.

Violation means a steep fine and/or incarceration. There are five basic types of probation. They include intensive, standard, unsupervised, informal, and shock.

Intensive probation usually means home detention. The subject is usually monitored using a GPS ankle bracelet. This form of probation is given to violent criminals, usually after a prison sentence has expired. Often, the subject will be forced to waive constitutional rights due to the obvious infringement on privacy. 

Standard probation means that the subject will do little more than report to a probation officer at set intervals. Other conditions might be provided by the judge.

Unsupervised probation means that the subject is not likely asked to report to a probation officer at all. There might be other conditions that apply to this type of probation, but they are carried out or completed by the subject. Typical conditions include a fine or community service or simply abiding by the law for the duration of probation.

Informal probation means that the subject may not have been formally convicted. Following the expiration of the terms of informal probation, charges that led to the probation are normally dismissed.

Shock probation means that a person is taken out of jail suddenly — and prematurely — in order to “shock” the subject into good behavior. The idea is that some convicted criminals will readjust after only a short jail sentence is completed.

When Is A Malpractice Case A “Slam Dunk?”

Malpractice cases can be messy. Few doctors will want to admit fault when it comes to a million-dollar lawsuit, and the hospital board responsible for ensuring that malpractice cases don’t occur won’t want to admit that their facility had anything to do with an injury or illness left untreated or undiagnosed. So when is a malpractice case a “slam dunk?” The most obvious answer is this: the case is a slam dunk whenever you find a malpractice attorney willing to take it on.

That’s because malpractice falls under the umbrella of “personal injury” and lawyers who take on these cases expect to be paid only if they win. This type of payment plan guarantees that only the cases with the highest chance of gaining ground in or out of court will actually make it that far. It also reduces the chance of a frivolous lawsuit.

That’s one answer, but what is the “best” kind of malpractice case?

Many doctors have bedside manner. They know how to discuss big health problems with patients without the patient feeling panic set in. These doctors are beloved by their patients, who are mostly comfortable speaking with them. And these doctors are just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else. But unfortunately, the first thing a hospital or attorney will do when someone launches a malpractice case against a popular doctor is play up that popularity. That’s what happened when former Helena oncologist Dr. Thomas Weiner was fired for malpractice.

Attorney Bob Meals represents Dr. Weiner. He said, “Dr. Weiner’s work speaks for itself — over 99% of his patients have expressed satisfaction with his care and treatment during the past 24 years when he practiced at St. Peter’s.”

We reiterate, Dr. Weiner was fired. Some of the material evidence suggests that Weiner ordered unnecessary chemotherapy, a dangerous cancer treatment that can sometimes do just as much harm as good. 

The best cases are built against unpopular doctors, sadly, but any case with material evidence can win in court. The real trick is gathering that evidence in a timely fashion when the doctors and hospital administrators will be doing everything in their power to make sure you have trouble obtaining it. Your attorney can help you find what you need.

If you believe that your prognosis was worsened because of a delayed diagnosis, a low standard of care, or even something as crazy as a misplaced instrument in your body during surgery, then you have the right to gather information for a lawsuit. And that’s exactly what you should do. Many hospitals will settle rather than take a case to court, and that’s probably the best outcome for most malpractice lawsuits. Speak with your lawyer about what you want or expect, and your lawyer will be honest about setting realistic goals and expectations for the case you build together.

Could Former President Trump Be Arrested For Inciting Mob That Attacked U.S. Capitol?

The events of January 6, 2021 were tumultuous, to say the least — and aren’t likely to be forgotten by those old enough to remember anytime soon. Unlike the rest of Trump’s antics, five people died as a result of the violence or, in the case of two members of the police force, through suicide in the weeks after. And there’s another reason we won’t forget: the mob violence was probably the last even of any significance during Trump’s time in office.

Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans let Trump off the hook, acquitting him of inciting the mob by using the excuse that they can’t try a former president (hint: they can). But McConnell was also quick to explain that Trump wasn’t off the hook just yet. 

McConnell said, “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president, and have that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”

He wasn’t done: “He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No. Instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily — happily — as the chaos unfolded.”

McConnell continued his rant against the former president by acknowledging that Trump “hasn’t gotten away with anything yet.”

The Justice Department will likely probe the mob violence to discover whether or not Trump should be held criminally liable for the assault on our Democracy. Perhaps if Trump had shown some sort of buyer’s remorse for his role in that violence, he’d have a better shot of skating out of harm’s way. But at this point, he could absolutely be tried. Whether or not a jury would ever convict him…well, that’s another story.

Sexual Harassment Allegations Lodged Against New York Governor Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s former aide says he sexually assaulted her when he kissed her without consent. Lindsey Boylan says Cuomo also asked if she wanted to play strip poker and noted the behavior had turned into a pattern before she left the job. Her job involved helping out the NY economic development agency.

Boylan is currently running to become a New York City borough president in Manhattan. Boylan wrote, “We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.

Governor Cuomo is under increased pressure right now as allegations of coronavirus wrongdoing continue to pile up. He is accused of covering up deaths at state nursing homes. When Assemblymember Ron Kim criticized the alleged cover-up, Cuomo allegedly threatened to “destroy” him in response.

Boylan wrote, “Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.”

Cuomo has vehemently denied the allegations. When they were first made in December 2020, he said, “Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has a right to come forward and express her opinion, and express issues and concerns that she has. But it’s just not true.”

When Boylan left the office the night of the alleged assault, she passed another woman’s desk. Boylan described her feelings that night: “I was scared she had seen the kiss. The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the Governor’s ‘crush’ on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself. After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it.”

Boylan’s allegations have also been called into question by other staffers who were present on each of these nights. John Maggiore, Dani Lever, Howard Zemsky, and Abbey Fashouer Collins have all denied that he asked Boylan or anyone else to play strip poker. Activists were quick to point out that just because you don’t see or hear about someone being harassed — doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

It’s likely that investigations into Cuomo’s potential criminal wrongdoing will be launched over the coming weeks, but whether or not they amount to anything substantial could be a different story. The governor is not immune simply by being in office, and unlike the president he is much more likely to be arrested if found guilty of wrongdoing.

Will Former President Trump Be Arrested For Tax Fraud?

The sheer number of controversies, investigations, and allegations involving former president Donald Trump — who very much lost the 2020 election in every sense of the word — is impossible to compare with other administrations. It’s out of this world high. And his being out of office hasn’t stopped the flood, either. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Trump would have to hand over his taxes to officials in New York who have been seeking them for a very long time (although this will happen outside of public view). 

What does this mean for investigations into Trump’s finances? Could Trump still be arrested for tax fraud?

Trump responded to the investigation by naming it “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

In response to the ruling, he said, “The Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did.”

According to a former New York Times report, Trump managed to avoid taxes for at least eleven years. In 2016 and 2017 he paid only $750 in federal income taxes — which would have been the filing fee for a man with his assets.

Whether or not he faces prosecution, much less arrest, is up in the air. Keep in mind that Donald Trump is still a wealthy man — even with his obvious and mounting debts — and he will be able to afford the best legal counsel should the case against him ever lead to an arrest and go to trial. 

Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously stated that Trump “is liable for everything he did while he was in office” and that he hadn’t gotten away with anything “yet” after voting to acquit during the second impeachment trial. That’s because a probe into the capitol riot is likely. Trump is blamed for inciting the mob to attack on January 6, where five people died as a result.

Are Sexual Abuse Or Sexual Assault Settlements Rare?

First, it’s important to recognize that the vast majority of victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault remain quiet throughout their lives — and they carry the burden of that solitude with them. That means increased stress, depression, anxiety, and a higher likelihood of turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with pain. Only a minute percentage of sexual assault cases result in the defendant prosecuted at all, much less in jail. But what does that mean for civil suits?

The process for obtaining compensation via civil litigation is easier than it is for criminal law, and the burden of proof isn’t as great. So are sexual abuse or sexual assault settlements as rare as criminal prosecution? 

In a word: Yes. But they’re “less rare” than the percentage of prosecuted criminal cases, which means whenever you’re ready to tell your story, you should tell it. One California lawyer recently won millions for survivors of boy scout sexual abuse. To those kids who went through the pain and anguish associated with that abuse, the payments were probably worth it.

A recent settlement was approved for Harvey Weinstein’s victims, which means that the survivors won’t go through the pain of being dragged into the courtroom to confront him. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Walrath said, “Eighty-three percent of the victims have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan.”

The settlement was reached after victims and their attorneys decided that further litigation would likely be unpredictable in court, and that the settlement was indeed fair. 

Walrath said, “I will not get into an analysis of whether one victim’s claim has more validity or more value than another’s. Every victim of Harvey Weinstein was victimized and deserves to have a say into the plan confirmation. If they choose not to release Mr. Weinstein, they have the right to a have a jury trial. … Eighty-three percent of the victims have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan.”

Although sometimes victims will want to look at an abuser in the eye to show strength in the face of fear and weakness, others will not. The reaction is completely natural. But not every victim felt the same in Weinstein’s case, nor did every attorney.

Attorneys Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer displayed their feelings in The Hollywood Reporter recently: “We look forward to continuing this fight on behalf of survivors who seek to hold Harvey Weinstein and his corporate enablers accountable.”

Counselor Beth Fegan said on behalf of the class-action suit: “This bankruptcy plan guarantees that Harvey Weinstein’s survivors will have the opportunity to be heard in a safe and confidential process. Although there will never be enough compensation or redress to right these wrongs, we’re immeasurably honored to represent our brave and resilient clients who, in the face of adverse rulings, continued to advocate for a fund for all survivors.”

When To Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

Remember when you were a kid? Placing blame on others was a fact of life. Someone twisted your arm or pushed you to the ground, and you knew exactly who deserved that blame. Convincing your parents was a matter of picking your battles. Would they believe your allegations? Was it worth the fight? Legal matters are much the same except in the adult world. Before picking a courtroom battle, you’ll want to know your chances of winning a case. Here’s what you should keep in mind.

First things first: a twisted arm won’t result in any financial compensation. You’re not a kid anymore. Personal injury lawyers make money based on contingency. That means they only get paid when they win. They only win if the case has merit. And a case only has merit if your financial interests were affected by someone else’s negligence. But you must also have proof of that negligence. Ask yourself whether or not you can answer these questions before calling a personal injury attorney.

If those conditions are met, then it’s time to hire a personal injury attorney. This individual (with or without the help of a firm) will help you calculate damages for which to sue. Factors contributing to a number might include literal dollar bills (i.e. what you’ve already paid in medical fees), but they can also include pain and suffering. The judge will also consider whether you deserve more money for any disability that might reduce your worth to an employer in the future (because that would mean fewer promotions, less productivity, and a smaller chance of finding a new job).

A personal injury attorney might also want to contact your insurance providers (or the defendant’s) to ensure that all appropriate reimbursements have been made. If you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, then you deserve compensation — whether the negligence occurred on purpose or by accident.

Will The Election Result Certification Affect My Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Election results have been certified in 20 states up until today. The results in 30 states are still pending. These 30 states include critical swing states that Trump needs in order to retain the presidency for another term. Right now, it looks like his administration’s lawsuits are aimed at slowing down the certification process so that the day when all states must be certified on December 8, 2020. What happens if he succeeds? Probably nothing. But who ends up in office might change the pace at which your personal injury lawsuit moves forward.

Why?

Lawsuits really have nothing to do with politics in general, which is why the president in office won’t really change anything about your case. But right now, coronavirus is still placing a huge burden on many workers around the country — and the incoming president, Joe Biden, will have a lot of say in how to change policies regarding the U.S. approach to slowing down or containing the virus.

For example, Biden could choose to shut down the country for another couple weeks to wipe out the virus completely (although that wouldn’t actually work). Biden has strongly said that he would not consider this action. But suppose he reversed course and shut down the country anyway. That would ensure that all pending lawsuits and court cases are put on hold until the two weeks elapsed. And during this time, new cases would pile up. By the time the lockdown ended, old cases would be delayed more than just the two weeks.

There have already been large delays for those seeking personal injury judgments. There is good news mixed with the bad, though. Those who have been waiting a long time may have noticed that the statute of limitations on their cases is about to expire. Worry not: these are the products of state laws, and most are being extended to give victims a fair chance to seek compensation even during this pandemic.

Some personal injury proceedings will be allowed to take place remotely (more than there are now). One of the downsides of delays on remote communication is the likelihood that a victim takes the low-ball offer instead of waiting for the settlement amount to increase. Cases are much less likely to go to trial now than they were a year ago. That’s because people need quick cash, having lost their jobs for no good reason.

Certain states with large, liberal-leaning cities — like New York City, New York or Los Angeles, California, or even Chicago, Illinois — won’t have a large impact regardless of when their election results are certified. There’s really no chance of these results being overturned. Trump hopes to focus his efforts on states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and several rust belt states that were closely decided in Biden’s favor.

Donald Trump has mismanaged the pandemic from the beginning — which has adversely affected our personal injury cases — and we can only hope a President Joe Biden will do better.

Can I Sue President Trump If Joe Biden Wins In 2020?

Maybe not so surprisingly, we’ve received a number of inquiries from United States citizens who lost a job — and therefore health insurance — after the coronavirus resulted in a large number of layoffs. They want to know whether or not they can hold President Donald J. Trump liable in civil class action litigation for his failure to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Why does this question arise? How would it play out in court? Is it even legal?

The basis of the case would theoretically depend on whether or not President Trump’s failure to act led to the economic crisis that cost people their jobs, and indirectly their health insurance — putting them at increased risk of financial ruin or the inability to pay hospital bills after a coronavirus infection.

It wouldn’t be a difficult case to argue in court. Donald Trump knew about the dangers of coronavirus. He failed to notify the public of those dangers. He overruled steps taken by organizations like the USPS — which had initially sought to send five masks to every American household before Trump said no. He has consistently spread misinformation about the efficacy of masks. The list goes on. So it isn’t hard to prove how Donald Trump made this crisis worse than it had to be.

Unfortunately, such civil litigation is not legal anymore.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Nixon v. Fitzgerald that former President Richard Nixon could not be held liable in civil court for the consequences of his actions when in office. From a legal standpoint this makes sense. After all, in today’s hyper-polarized political world, every president would be sued by millions of citizens. 

It’s important to note that the initial trial during Nixon v. Fitzgerald resulted in rulings against the president in both the original trial and the appellate court. The Supreme Court had the final say — and it ruled differently, providing the president with immunity.

But this does not mean President Trump cannot be tried in criminal court, though.