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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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More often than not, Ghostbusters is the answer to the above question. However, Ghostbusters, while able to exterminate even the biggest of marshmallow men, probably cannot help you get out of the slammer. As a lawyer who practices in criminal defense, among other areas, I probably get the question of “What to do if arrested” more than any other. So, let’s take it step by step, but hope that you never have to worry about it.



Keep in mind that there are a multitude of legal issues concerning a valid arrest, but just for this article’s sake, we are assuming that there was a valid arrest. Also, this article is only dealing with misdemeanors. Check back for articles dealing with these other items in the near future.

1. Be Cooperative – Ok, so you’ve been arrested. First and foremost, be cooperative! Sometimes it is hard to do, especially if you believe you have been wrongly arrested, but being cooperative will help your cause. Misdemeanors are typically heard in magistrate or municipal court. These are smaller courts that only deal with smaller issues. Therefore, the officer and his/her testimony are given great weight. It may seem odd to a person that has never been arrested or even been cited with a speeding ticket, but the defense attorney literally will ask the officer to help him out on certain charges. Particularly, if there are multiple charges, they will often dismiss one charge if the defendant pleads guilty to another charge IF the defendant was cooperative. I have had cases where I read the complaint and thought it would be an easy case to get dismissed. Then, I talk to the officer who says, “yeah, you’re client is a piece of sh!t!” I wish I could say that this does not matter and the facts should stand for themselves, and a good defense lawyer will get your case dismissed. This is just not true in these smaller courts. Magistrates are not even attorneys; they take a 6-week course that “qualifies” them to hear important cases. There are some very good magistrates out there, but most times even the good ones side with the State.

2. Call an attorney – Attorneys get a bad rap for inflated fees and taking your money even if they cannot help. However, this really is not the case. Attorneys do many things that clients do not see which help their case. It is important to call an attorney before you are taken to the station for an arraignment because the magistrate will set your bond. There are several key items that a magistrate must know when setting bond and without an attorney, you may not know what these are and the magistrate probably will not ask; your criminal background (if any), your ties to the community, or whether you are a flight risk are a few of these items. The most ideal bond is referred to as a Personal Recognizance Bond or PR bond. This simply means that on your signature or “word” the court trusts that you will attend any and all court hearings and that you are not a risk to the public. The conditions of bond are also important, and an attorney will be certain to clear up any items that could potentially post problems, such as being able to leave the county or state. If you cannot afford an attorney and there is a possible penalty of jail time, the court will provide you with one, but only after your arraignment. Some attorneys will agree to represent you solely for the arraignment for an hourly rate, so it cannot be overstated how important it is to call an attorney. This will save you many headaches later!

These two steps are also extremely important if you are arrested and charged with a felony. Felonies are much more serious crimes that involve a multitude of hearings that will eventually be heard in circuit or an intermediate court. Check back very soon on what to do if you are arrested and charged with a felony.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016



There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that in some way or another, the global financial crisis has affected law firms in the same way it has affected many other businesses – work might be a little quieter, jobs a little less secure and clients a little harder to attract or retain.

Believe it or not, there might be some good to come out of all this doom and gloom. If you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands, resist the temptation to steal files off colleagues’ desks and instead use this time to develop your current awareness strategies – know you clients, their industries and the legal developments that affect them.


Develop your current awareness strategies and beat the legal-market downturn - 1

Relax! Keeping up to date is easy!



Investing a little time and effort in setting up strategies to remain up-to-date on client, legal and industry developments now will make you that much more valuable to your firm and clients – which is important now, when times are tough, and even more so when work does pick back up again. You will be the one with the impressive list of articles and papers to your name, a solid understanding of current industry and legal issues and strong client relationships.

There are some amazing free resources out there, many of them as good or better than the services made available by commercial providers. However, for the sake of brevity (I know, it’s not that brief an article at all!) I’m focussing on one or two specific alert services within a few commonly used paid/subscription legal research services. The other focus for this article (and the one to follow on free services) is on resources that can be used to monitor specific areas of the law or industries and not simply general “news” resources (these are of course useful, but most readers would already be familiar with them).
Read about legal developments before anyone else

Alert services provided by commercial suppliers are valuable tools for monitoring developments in specific areas of law. The ones I find most useful (because of their ability to be customised and/or the targeted ares of law they cover) are:

Lawlex’s legislative alerts – the ability to set up alerts for changes to legislation based on targeted areas of law, or specific Acts and Regulations, or a combination of both (selecting certain pieces of legislation that have already been identified as falling within a particular category) is really useful. The lists of legislation under each category are almost as exhaustive as you can get and a great way to make sure you’re keeping up to date with all of the relevant legislation, not just the one or two obvious Acts. The summaries provided by Lawlex when a piece of legislation is introduced or amended are also valuable as brief, plain-english descriptions of the effects of the amendments.

Lawlex’s regulatory newsfeeds – Rather detailed summaries of regulatory, legal, legislative and news developments in certain areas of law such as Environment, OH&S , Building & Construction and Financial Services. The Corporate Law newsfeed is one of the more valuable alert services available.

LexisNexis’ case law alerts – These are my favourite alerts for monitoring Australian cases when you are only interested in monitoring a relatively specific aspect of new cases. Once you have set up a personal profile within LNAU, simply run a case law search from the red “Cases” tab (using as many of the available search fields as you wish) and save the results as an alert. I use this one to monitor how certain judges treat particular issues, to see whenever a client or their competitors are involved in litigation and for monitoring many other issues, words/phrases and topics. Be sure to set your initial search to “last week” or some relatively short period as the alert has the effect of running that same search every morning (or whatever other time of day you set) and sending you the results list. Thus, if there is a new case in an area of interest, it gets sent to me each morning for a week. Kinda annoying (any longer than a week and it would be unbearable), but worth it for the level of personalisation afforded.

Thomson’s Alert 24 – This is another combined alert, providing details of legislative, case law, regulatory, policy and news developments for particular areas of law. I find the coverage really comprehensive and commercially focussed, which is what most of us are after. Once you’re within the “Current Awareness” > “Alert 24″ section and have had a look at the type of information covered under each of the subject areas, jump into “preferences” to set up your email alert. I find “Court Practice and Litigation” the one I get the most out of – good general updates on procedural issues. I know that the Bankruptcy and FSR alerts are both also popular with people I work with. Of course, the relevancy of the topics will be based on your prractice.
Know your clients and their industry

When it comes to monitoring clients and their industries, the free services (such as Google News and web alerts, Business Spectator and others) are some of the best services out there. Some of the subscription based alert services that I find useful include:

Dataanalysis - The Datanalysis alert service is a nightmare to navigate, but once you get through the set up process, the result can be very useful. Use this tool to receive an alert any time an announcement (or a particular type of announcement) is made by a publicly listed company (ASX only). Monitor clients, their subsidiary or parent companies, and other companies operating in the same spheres.

Merger Market – This isn’t one that I use regularly, but I have colleagues that swear by it. News about potential and definite mergers, takeovers and deals is provided and categorised based upon how reliable the source is. While they are admittedly very fast to market with validated information, it’s the “rumoured deals” that set this product apart.


These services are just the tip of the iceberg – the free resources you can use for keeping up to date with legal developments and industry news will blow you away – but I have to leave something for next time, don’t I?! If you’re interested in free tools you can use to monitor these kinds of developments, come back in a week or 2!
Develop your current awareness strategies and beat the legal-market downturn


Redundancies are up, billable hours are down and long boozy lunches are fewer and further between – it seems that lawyers are continuing to feel the pinch of the GFC .

So if you’re not one of the busy few working in insolvency or litigation, be smart and spend a little time each day working on your current awareness strategies. A little time invested now will pay dividends when the market turns around. Use this time wisely and be the lawyer who has developed closer client relationships (by keeping tabs on their industry), positioned yourself as a leader in your field (by researching and writing papers and articles) and has the alerts and habits in place to ensure you’re up to date when work picks up again.

For some great subscription-based services that you can use to stay up to date with legal and industry developments, feel free to check out my previous article ondeveloping your current awareness strategies to beat the legal-market downturn. If, however, the research budget has been cut and your firm won’t be signing up for any new resources for a while, fear not – this article is all about the best freeresources available for keeping up to date with legal, client and industry developments. I’ve been looking forward to writing this article and sharing some of these resources with you – in my opinion, the free resources listed below often beat their subscription-based counterparts on quality of information and timeliness. Thankfully, it turns out you don’t always get what you pay for – these free resources are worth your time and much more!
Know your clients and their industry – for free!
Google News and web alerts

If you have not used Google News alerts to monitor mentions of clients, topics and people in the press, you have been missing out on the single most useful news monitoring tool available, free or otherwise. From an inconspicuous link in the left hand column, you can set up either email alerts or an RSS feed based on any word, phrase or crazy-complex-Google-search-string you can think of. Check out myarticle on using Google for legal research for some tips and tricks on operators and connectors to really narrow down what you want to monitor.

Google News with "News Alerts" circled in red

Google News alerts are completely customisable. As well as allowing you to use all of the Google operators and connectors in your search string, you can specify what the alert is to search across – news sources, blogs, the web generally, video, groups or “comprehensive” being all of the above – and how often you wish to receive the alert – once a day, once a week or “as it happens”. Tip – don’t select “as it happens” unless you have a very specific search set up or you like having a whole tonne of email alerts clogging up your inbox. Choose your email address or RSS to set the mode of delivery. You can change and delete alerts really easily via the “manage my alerts” link. This makes it a great resource to set others up with – they can manage their alerts in the future without involving you. Easy for you and for them.

Create and manage alerts quickly and easily

It’s important to note that Google News only searches across the last 30 days worth of news. This isn’t an issue when setting up alerts (no time warping here, you can only be alerted to new news) but it is something to be aware of when running a search. You can access older news via the archives, but they’re a little hidden – jump into the Google News Advanced Search screen and you’ll see a link to the “archive” about down the page. Why it is tucked away in there I have no idea – the news archive is an amazingly powerful tool, complete with its own advanced search options.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Google News searches across the online versions of hardcopy newspapers and publications. This usually isn’t an issue when using the alerts to monitor updates in certain areas, but can be an issue if you are using the search function to find old newspaper articles. While hardcopy and online versions or articles are often the same, they are not always the same – I’ve seen headings change, articles shortened or lengthened and sometimes articles disappearing altogether between online and print versions of publications. If this is an issue for your research task, talk to you librarian or leave me a comment for info on searching across hardcopy press only.
Business Spectator

I still cannot believe this resource is free – but am sure glad it is! Business Spectatoris another free resource that puts many of its costly subscription-based counterparts to shame. It is a “24-hours-a-day business news and commentary website” written by leading Australian business commentators Alan Kohler, Stephen Bartholomeusz and Robert Gottliebsen (who are backed by an absolute powerhouse of journalists, editors and professionals).

I find that the easiest way to use Business Spectator for client and industry monitoring is to set up customised email alerts. Alerts can be personalised so that you receive news/commentary on a particular company (enter the ASX code or company name), industry sector (currently 27 to chose from) and so that you receive them at particular times of the day or week.


Use Business Spectator's email alerts for monitoring clients and industries
Read about legal developments – for free!
Fee Fie Foe Firm

Fee Fie Foe Firm is one of those “I wish I had thought of that!” ideas which has taken the legal research world by storm. Use FeeFieFoeFirm to search across thousands of law firm websites for articles, bulletins, press releases and legal experts. Because the site uses the powerful Google search technology (complete with the connectors, operators and modifiers that go with it) and includes separate sites for so many jurisdictions (Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand and South Africa) this site is your one shop stop for case notes, legislative developments and other legal and regulatory updates. An added bonus of law firm website publications is that they tend to be very client focussed, so searching for legal updates here means you’re likely to find practical, to-the-point and commercially focussed articles – and not the interesting-but-a-bit-pie-in-the-sky articles you often get in legal journals.

Part of what makes me love this resource is its inclusivity – law firms don’t have to pay to be included on this site (as is the case with similar products like Mondaq and Linex Legal) which means this is the most comprehensive law firm search out there. As long as they’re on the web, they are pretty much guaranteed to be covered. If you know of a law firm site that’s not on here (I challenge you to find one!), be sure to let the site’s creator @damienmacrae know.
LexisNexis Daily Unreported Judgments Notifier

Perhaps the only product LNAU doesn’t try to charge us for (now that Lawyers Weekly is no longer free), LexisNexis’ Daily Unreported Judgments Notifier is an email alert for all cases that come out of the Australian courts as soon as they are made available to the publisher (usually within a day), which means this is a great resource when you need to know about the latest cases as soon as they are decided. Whilst the DUJN is quite basic in content and design, what sets it above other free daily alerts, such as legal publisher CCH’s, is its simplicity, full text coverage and the fact that it doesn’t rely upon a LNAU subscription to make use of many of the links. However, I find that the CCH daily email alert is a good option if you do have a decent CCH subscription and want links to legal news and case summaries.

On this topic, I’d just like to put one of my nerd-wish-list items out there – an alert service from the AustLII advanced search screen. If I could select which AustLII case law/journals/other databases to search across and could use its boolean search strings to narrow the search significantly, this (currently fictional) alert service would be a lifesaver for legal researchers and lawyers needing judgments on particular topics as soon as they are released. Go on AustLII, do it. You know you want to.

Comlaw email service for legislative updates


The Comlaw email alert service is very basic, but if a Lawlex or Timebase subscription is not for you, then at least there is something you can use to monitor legislative changes. Type in a search term (no complex search strings here – computer says no) and select which database to monitor (I usually stick to Acts, Act Compilations and Bills). Although I haven’t used it for this purpose, it could be a great way of monitoring some of those trickier to find/follow legislative resources such as Legislative Instruments etc. Please let me know if you use it this way, I’d be interested to know how well it works

Monday, February 1, 2016

Legal highs should not be banned


The great debate has been going on around the world is on legal highs. Various organizations and people are raising their voices against legal highs even without knowing what actually legal highs do and why legal highs should be banned. The more steps are taken against legal highs, the more people are being attracted towards it. Many countries have implemented laws to control selling and consuming legal highs. But banning legal highs would really serve the purpose! The policy makers are actually hiding their faces from the reality and trying to make a curtain to cover the socio economic factors that force people to have the pleasures that legal highs serve. Users take the legal highs for the recreational effects. Concerned people and governments should identify the underlying causes in order to reduce the problematic users.


According to Durham chief constable Mike Barton’s statement, all drugs and hard substances should be decriminalized in order to fight against various problems criminal activities. The alternative way of supplying the drugs would make the legal highs safer and the offenses can be lowered. In a Spiegel Online interview, the professor of Harvard University Mr. Jeffrey Miron has questioned in favor of legalizing all drugs. Even he wants to withdraw the prohibition on marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as the prohibition opens the door of black market, which sometimes costs the human lives.

 He argued that the openly sold legal highs could never be the cause of addiction. Alcohol and cigarettes are not illegal and can be consumed easily but not all the people are addicted to them. Addiction does not depend on the fact whether it is legal or illegal. If addition to caffeine or beer is not the headache of government, then how come legal highs seem to be a greater problem! Professor Miron also told that the prohibition lobby only wants to achieve their goals. The legal highs should not be banned as far that would not harm any one else. Rather, legalization of the legal highs would increase violations, as banning would make the black markets inevitable and the conflicts between the parties would be a new threat to civil society.

 The addicted people would get the drugs anyway and would be involved into criminal activities. The vacuum between the users and the suppliers tends to create organizing criminal moves.

 Withdrawing the ban would definitely destroy the black markets, as well as government can regulate the drug trade. Banning the legal highs would not stop the possibilities of the productions and demand will determine the prices, thus government will definitely lose billions of dollars. On the other hand it would reduce the number of prisoners, which will help to save money from unnecessary draining. Holland has managed to hold the position of having the lowest number of drug users in Europe, as Holland has less harsh laws.

Consuming is not a criminal issue; rather it is a social issue. Legal highs should not be banned, as legalization provides the truthful and honest information, which actually guides the user how to use. Legalizations make the people bound to carry some responsibilities. It has been reported that the illegal drugs obtain more than 8% in global markets. Banning the legal highs would only increase the percentage and would help the people to engage more into illegal trafficking. No one can prove that prohibition is fruitful, rather mass awareness is the most needed step to avoid offences associated with legal highs.



  • Here are some important points why legal highs should not be banned
  • Banning would make the users unsafe.
  • It would decrease the population behind the bars.
  • Legalization would reduce the corruption.
  • Government can earn billions of money as tax.
  • It would save money from unnecessary spending.
  • It would cripple the organized crimes.
  • Government can deal with consumer protection issues

In Case of an Accident, Contact A Personal Injury Attorney to Protect Your Interests


At one point or another in our driving lives we may all expect to be unintentionally involved in an accident. We may even be involved in more than one, as statistics are against us. If you are involved in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, then you need to protect yourself as soon as possible. There are some things that take precedence over summoning legal assistance—medical treatment, for example, but the sooner you can involve your lawyer, the more protected you will be.
The Importance of Protecting Yourself

This type of situation requires you to be extra vigilant when it comes to protecting yourself. There are simply too many potential mistakes that you can make. After an accident, you are likely to be upset and confused at the very least and you may find that you emotions lead you into trouble. You might make statements at the scene that you think better of later, or forget to take care of obtaining crucial evidence of your innocence. Worst of all, you might find yourself making a recorded statement to the insurance company that you will later regret.
Getting Help

The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may not have experienced this situation before, but your personal injury lawyer should be more than familiar with the appropriate steps that you will need to take. He or she can best advise you on them. That way, you will be able to collect the information that you need to protect yourself from the legal actions of the other driver as well as to build your own case, if necessary. Don’t get stuck taking on the responsibility for an accident that you didn’t cause. Get help instead.

Is the Second Injury Fund in Danger?


Is the Second Injury Fund in Danger?

We’ve known for some time that the Missouri Second Injury Fund is in danger of running out. Alarm bells have been sounding since the passage of a 2005 cap on the employer surcharge that funds this type of compensation. Though businesses have countered that the issue is one of overpayment, a state auditor’s report in 2007 found that revenues could begin to fall short as early as 2008. The fund has finally begun to reach its limits in 2011. The Attorney General’s office has just circulated a memo stating that available funds have dropped to $1.34 million from a 2006 balance of $30 million.
The Purpose of the Fund

The second injury fund was originally created to benefit both employers and employees. The idea was that employers would be more likely to hire a worker who had already suffered from injury or debilitation if they knew that a further on the job injury would be covered by a second fund—one administered by the state rather than the employer. So the employer would have an employee whose potential worker’s comp claims were covered by an outside source, the employee would have a job and the promise of worker’s comp if necessary, and the state would have more employed residents. Everyone wins.
The State of the Fund

Now, however, the fund is in imminent danger of running dry and the Missouri Attorney General is moving to prevent it from becoming overdrawn. Although a number of different solutions to the problem have been discussed, there has been no governmental consensus on the matter as of yet. Until there is, or until more funds accumulate, the Attorney General has halted second fund offers. That means that no new second fund claims will be honored for the time being. No one is really sure at this point how his decision will ultimately affect current and future cases, but some things will definitely have to change.

Personal Injury Cases in Missouri


Personal Injury Cases in Missouri

In regards to personal injury cases, they usually fall into about six categories. Serious injury and wrongful death, truck and auto accidents, construction and workplace accidents, medical malpractice, bad faith insurance claims, general and product liability. Perhaps the most common fall into the category of truck and auto accidents. And it is
here where we will look at a few recent cases in Missouri.
Truck and Auto Accidents

Cruising along highway 43, a narrow two-lane highway that runs all though central Missouri, Michael Smith(in his Ford Escort)was side-swiped by a tractor trailer operated by Simmons Foods. The state troopers found that Mr. Smith’s vehicle had been struck by the dual wheels of the big rig, as they met on a perilous curve. The trailer was found to be slightly over the center line and the trailer crashed into the Escort’s compartment and sliced through Mr. Smith’s shoulder. After extensive surgeries and rehabilitation, Mr. Smith was able to return to work. Although he did suffer permanent limitations to the use of his range of motion. The case was settled a month before trial with Mr. Smith receiving an $800,000 dollar settlement.

An elderly man was on his way home when he was struck by a drunk-driver head-on. He was air-lifted to the University of Missouri, where he was treated for a shattered pelvis and compound fracture to the right leg. The attorneys found that there was limited insurance on behalf of the drunk driver. However, with a little digging into the drunk-driver’s background, it was found that he had some assets that were not insured from the wreck. This is a good example of hiring an attorney that will look into every nook and cranny, some attorneys are simply satisfied with a quick insurance settlement.

It is essential to hire a firm that is known for it’s strong work ethic and diligent attention to the smallest details. One that treats you as a trusted partner.