Podcast: Why sending defendants to religious work camps could be illegal

A nonprofit group is asking 24 Oklahoma courts to stop sending defendants to a Christian drug rehabilitation center that forces them to attend church and work for free at a chicken plant. According to Reveal by The Center for Investigative Reporting, The Freedom From Religion Foundation says sending people to Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery violates religious liberties established by the First Amendment. Three men who were sent there have filed a class action lawsuit against the rehab center, claiming they were forced into slave labor by having to work in the chicken plant without getting paid. A podcast by the reporters who investigated the case is available here.

NTL President-Elect Mark Lanier among National Law Journal’s 2017 Winning Litigators

The National Trial Lawyers 2018 President-Elect and Lanier Law Firm founder Mark Lanier is honored among the National Law Journal’s 2017 Winning Litigators based on his courtroom victories on behalf of people injured by Johnson & Johnson’s defective Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants.

In December 2016, Mr. Lanier and his trial team secured a verdict of more than $1 billion for six plaintiffs harmed by the defective implant. Jurors agreed that the implants failed prematurely, leaving victims to face additional surgeries, pain and debilitating conditions.

“My mission, and what we ultimately accomplished, along with our amazing trial team, was to clearly present the complex evidence that proved to the jurors that the devices were defective and that company officials knew about the flaws but failed to warn patients and doctors of the risks,” Mr. Lanier told the National Law Journal. “The jury saw hard evidence and was rightly angry. Their verdict demanded change.”

Asked by the NLJ for trial tips that are key to his success, Mr. Lanier responded: “Work yourself to death in preparation! Talent is nice. Actually, talent is great! But hard work trumps talent over and over again.”

Earlier in 2016, the Lanier team secured a $500 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a separate lawsuit over defective Pinnacle hip implants.

Recognized as one of the Most Influential Attorneys of the Decade by the National Law Journal and as one of the 25 Greatest Lawyers of the Past Quarter Century by Texas Lawyer, Mr. Lanier was named the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year by The National Trial Lawyers. In 2015, he received the American Association of Justice’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He also is the founder of the Christian Trial Lawyers Association and the Lanier Theological Library.

With offices in Houston, New York and Los Angeles, The Lanier Law Firm is committed to addressing client concerns with effective and innovative solutions in courtrooms across the country. The firm is composed of outstanding trial attorneys with decades of experience handling cases involving pharmaceutical liability, asbestos exposure, commercial litigation, product liability, maritime law, and sports and entertainment law. Visit http://www.lanierlawfirm.com.

Video: Lisa Bloom on different side defending Weinstein

Lisa BloomCalifornia attorney Lisa Bloom has made a career out of defending women who have been victimized by sexual assault and violence. But now she’s defending Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer accused of sexual misconduct. “He wanted to be respectful to women and he still wants to be respectful to women. And he’s asked me, of all people, to help guide him in that direction, to explain to him the laws of sexual harassment and why this is important,” Bloom told the Associated Press. The New York Times reports Weinstein has settled with at least eight women over alleged harassment. While Bloom has long represented women in high profile cases against celebrities like Bill Cosby and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, she said she confronted Weinstein about the accusations he faces in a “frank, blunt way.” The AP reports Bloom’s mother, National Trial Lawyers Executive Committee member Gloria Allred, says she wouldn’t have taken on Weinstein as a client. Video of the Associated Press interview with Bloom is available here.

NTL Executive Committee member Tom Mesereau on documentary screening panel

Tom Mesereau

National Trial Lawyers Criminal Defense Executive Committee member Tom Mesereau

The National Trial Lawyers Criminal Defense Executive Committee member Tom Mesereau will be a featured panel speaker following the screening of a new documentary, “When Justice Isn’t Just,” on September 30th in Los Angeles. The film, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker David Massey and produced by Dawn Massey, will be shown as part of a program that begins at 4:00 pm at Norris Cinema Theatre, Frank Sinatra Hall at 3507 Trousdale Parkway in LA. Mesereau and other panel members will discuss the film and its impact immediately following the film at 5:00 pm. For more information about the event, contact Dawn Alexander at 818-830-4818 or go to www.whenjusticeisntjust.com.

NTL member Jose Baez: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE

New England Patriots helmetNTL member Jose Baez says tests on the brain of Aaron Hernandez reveal the former NFL player suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and that Hernandez’s daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for leading Hernandez to believe the sport was safe. Baez says the tests reveal that Hernandez had one of the most severe cases of CTE ever seen in someone of his age. Baez defended Hernandez when he was acquitted of the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Hernandez committed suicide while still in prison for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd. The Associated Press reports that the lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Boston claims the NFL and the Patriots denied Avielle Hernandez of her father’s companionship.

Tips to Avoid A DUI Arrest

legal news for consumers

To be honest, there’s only one foolproof way to avoid a DUI arrest: Don’t drink and drive. However, there have been instances where people have been arrested for DUI even without a drop of alcohol in their system. If you don’t want to be arrested for DUI for any reason, here are some tips that might help.

Don’t drive if you’re drowsy or exhausted

Never get behind the wheel if you’re feeling the slightest bit sleepy or tired. When you’re in such a physical state, you are likely to have difficulty focusing on the road, and your driving will be erratic. Cops will notice this, and they will pull you over on suspicion of DUI. Then again, there is a laundry list of serious reasons why you shouldn’t drive drowsy and tired. Far too many people have died because someone fell asleep at the wheel, and a DUI arrest would be the least of your problems.

Don’t give cops any reason to stop your car

To be able to take any action against you, the police will need probable cause, which could be several things. Busted lights and turn indicators, shattered windows, and other outward signs that there is something wrong with your car could be reasons enough for cops to stop your vehicle. If you’re driving a car with an expired license plate, that would be probable cause as well. If you run a red light or commit any kind of traffic violation, you’re likely to be pulled over by officers. Never give the police any reason to stop your car.

Be polite to cops

If an officer pulls you over, don’t forget to be polite and cooperative the entire time. Do the opposite, and you will only escalate things, and you could end up being handcuffed and booked for a DUI and a number of other charges, regardless of whether or not you were actually intoxicated.

Invoke the Fifth

Let’s say that you did have one drink, and you were pulled over. The officer will ask you several questions, including some about drinking. If you’re concerned about incriminating yourself, you can always invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer the question. But don’t lie, because that can be used against you in court if ever you’re arrested.

Still, if you get arrested for DUI, keep calm, and remember that there are things that you must refrain from doing to improve your chances of beating the charge. Check them out in the infographic below.

Infographic provided by Law Office of Michelle Bell

NTL member representing professor accused of stabbing death

National Trial Lawyers member Kenneth Wine says his client, a professor who’s accused of stabbing a Chicago man to death in late July, is a “gentle soul.” Wine made the comments Monday in a first appearance for Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem. Andrew Warren and Lathem are accused of the stabbing death of 26-year-old Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau on July 27 in Chicago. Wine says he’s received “dozens of calls and letters in support of Dr. Lathem.” Wine is urging people to withhold judgment until all of the facts are revealed. Read more about the story at the Associated Press website.

Why Representing Yourself in Criminal Court is a Bad Idea

Bad Jury Instruction Revives Hertz Wrongful Death CaseSo you’re a big fan of all those law dramas both on the big and small screens. After years of watching actors in perfectly-tailored suits argue cases for their clients in the most dramatic and thrilling fashion, you believe you’ve seen enough to know about the law and court procedures. With everything you’ve “learned” from these legal dramas, you are confident that you can ably represent yourself should you become the subject of a legal investigation or get charged with a crime.

The confidence is admirable, but representing yourself in a criminal court without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a very bad idea. Here are some of the reasons why:

You don’t have extensive knowledge of the law and court procedures

Contrary to what you believe, watching legal dramas will never supply you with the legal expertise required to argue your case in court with any degree of competence. Criminal defense attorneys spend interminable years studying the law in law school and later in court. They train to become extremely familiar with all court procedures. What you see in law dramas are just that: drama. Real-life cases need a little more than that. The fact that even lawyers who are facing criminal charges hire other lawyers to represent them in court should drive that point home.

The other party will likely have a lawyer

If you’re facing a criminal charge, you will be going up against a district attorney who will naturally know more about the law compared to yourself. Things certainly wouldn’t be looking good for you.

Consider the paperwork and the rules

Any legal case, criminal or otherwise, requires a mountain of paperwork. There is also a laundry list of rules that govern the processing and the submission of these documents. One missing page or one missed deadline could spell the difference between conviction and acquittal. Criminal defense attorneys know this stuff, but you probably don’t.

Judges won’t tolerate your lack of legal knowledge

You probably know very little about the law, and it will show in court. Some judges may treat you with a little tolerance, but most judges probably won’t. And you know what will happen if you get on a judge’s bad side. In contrast, the opposing party would have a lawyer familiar with the law, legal procedures, and with the presiding judge.

There could be civil cases where self-representation somehow works, but it is incredibly rare in criminal cases. If you are charged with a crime, your best bet would not be yourself, but an experienced criminal defense attorney. To know what a good criminal defense lawyer can do for you, check out the infographic below.

Infographic provided by AZ Criminal Law Team