Friday, 16 December 2011

Los Angeles Dodgers Player Arrested for DUI

Los Angeles Dodgers player James Loney was arrested for DUI after an accident involving several cars last month. According to police, his vehicle sideswiped several vehicles before he finally passed out at the wheel. The incident took place in November in Sherman Oaks, but has only now been reported in the media.

According to the California Highway Patrol, officers found Loney’s behavior at the scene of the accident to be extremely unusual. He was arrested at the scene, and then taken to the hospital for further tests. Tests for drug and alcohol have yielded negative results. However, the results of the blood tests are not yet in.

Loney’s DUI arrest is not expected to affect his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has already been tendered a contract for the 2012 season. However, he still faces possible criminal charges. If Loney's blood tests reveal a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more at the time of the accident, he could face two criminal charges. He could be charged with driving while physically or mentally impaired by alcohol or drugs, and may also be charged with driving with a BAC of .08% or more.

Getting in touch with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer immediately is important when you have been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. A person arrested for DUI in California has only a period of 10 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. In some cases, a Los Angeles DUI attorney may be able to get an extension on the time limit.

The number of people who need a Los Angeles DUI lawyer is excepted to spike over the next couple of weeks as law enforcement agencies in California increase enforcement activities during the holiday season. Expect more sobriety checkpoints and more California Highway Patrol troopers and local law enforcement officers patrolling the roads as we get closer to New Year's.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Supreme Court to Decide If Law Reducing Crack Cocaine Sentences Can Be Applied Retroactively

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case involving 2 men who were convicted, but not sentenced, before a federal law reducing sentences for crack cocaine offenses went into effect.

The men, Edwin Dorsey and Corey Hill, were convicted of federal crack cocaine offenses before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 went into effect in August 2010. However, they had not been sentenced at that time.

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced the disparity in sentencing between persons convicted for crack cocaine offenses versus powder cocaine offenses. Until the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 was passed, the disparity in sentences for these offenses was staggering. There was a difference of 100 to 1 in sentencing for persons convicted of crack cocaine offenses, compared to those sentenced for powder cocaine crimes.

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 vastly reduced the disparity to 18 to 1. However, people like Dorsey and Hill, who had been convicted before the law went into effect, were left hanging in the pipeline, because they were believed to be ineligible for the new sentencing guidelines. A Chicago appeals court ruled that the 2 men were not eligible for the federal sentencing law to be applied retroactively to them.

The case has now gone to the Supreme Court, and next week, the Supreme Court Is expected to begin hearing oral arguments. Dorsey and Hill insist that they are eligible for lower sentences, because of the Fair Sentencing Act.

It seems very unfair to California criminal defense lawyers that the law has been applied retroactively to persons who had been sentenced before the law went into effect, but not for those whose sentences were pending at the time. Almost 12,400 prisoners have filed a motion seeking early release after the sentencing reductions were made retroactive in November. However, incomplete sentencing cases have been left languishing in the pipeline.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Caylee’s Law Would Allow Felony Criminal Charges against Parents of Missing Children

Efforts around the country to pass legislation that would allow charges to be filed against parents who fail to report when their children are missing, are gaining momentum. In Florida, lawmakers have already proposed legislation that would allow felony charges to be brought against parents who wait too long to report that their children are missing. Other states are considering similar measures.

The Florida legislation came after a petition was signed by more than 700,000 people calling for such legislation. Under the Florida proposal, parents who fail to report a missing child under the age of 12 after 48 hours, could face felony charges. Additionally, the Florida legislature would also allow felony charges to be brought against parents who fail to report a child's death or the location of the child's corpse within two hours of the death.

The calls for such legislation have emerged after the acquittal of Casey Anthony for the murder of her two-year-old daughter. Anthony was acquitted of the murder and other charges, but was found guilty of lying to investigators. These were misdemeanor charges that led to a four-year prison sentence. However, had there been a law requiring parents to report their missing children, she could have been sentenced to up to 15 years.

Other states around the country are also considering such measures. In Utah, lawmakers are in the beginning stages of drafting a bill that would make it a felony to fail to report a missing or dead child. The bill will be presented in the next legislative session. Similar efforts are underway in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In Colorado, people have been sending mass e-mails to legislators to push for a similar law.

From experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have noted that when laws are designed purely to honor a deceased person, they usually end up doing more harm than good. These laws have little reasoning, and are designed simply to appease the public.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Ten Reasons Why You May Be Pulled over for DUI

Even though it may seem so, police officers rarely pull persons over on suspicion of drunk driving on a whim. They look for signs of intoxicated driving before they decide to pull someone over. Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers believe you’re at a much higher risk of being pulled over for drunk driving if:

• You’re weaving between lanes
• You’re drifting between lanes
• You’re driving at excessive speeds (defined as 10 mph above the speed limit)
• You’re driving too close to the vehicle in front of you
• You apply the brakes frequently and unnecessarily
• You’re driving the wrong way
• You almost hit another vehicle, pedestrian
• You drive off the highway
• You fail to obey traffic signals
• You’re driving at inappropriately low speeds

If a police officer notices such driving behavior, the officer is likely to pull you over to investigate. Once you're pulled over, if the police officer has reason to believe that you're intoxicated, he may subject you to a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test can include a number of smaller tests. These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, probably known as the penlight test, in which you will be required to follow a pen with your eyes, while the officer monitors your eye movement or angle, a heel-to-toe test to determine your ability to follow instructions and walk a straight line, as well as a one-leg stand test.

Other simple tests involve reciting the alphabet. However, only the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, one-leg stand and the heel-to-toe test are considered fairly reliable. After the field sobriety test, a police officer may ask for a chemical test too. The results of all these tests are meant to be used as evidence of your condition at the time you were pulled over.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Yuba City Dental Assistant Sentenced to Prison on Fraud Charges

A dental assistant from Yuba City has been sentenced to three years in prison after she was convicted of embezzlement charges. The woman had been charged with stealing $205,000 from a dentist, her former employer. She apparently used the money to pay for surgery and purchase some jewelry and electronic items. The embezzlement apparently continued over a period of five years, during which she worked as an office manager at the dentist’s office.

According to prosecutors, the embezzlement involved manipulation of time sheets in order to collect pay for the days that she did not work. Prosecutors also believe that she charged personal items on the company credit card.

Embezzlement charges are typically filed when a person steals money or property when in a position of responsibility. Embezzlement crimes typically involve employees in corporate settings. In California, embezzlement crimes fall under the category of fraud crimes. Embezzlement can involve not just money, but also property or any other assets that the person has responsibility over, has knowledge of, or has access to. The main difference between regular theft and embezzlement is that in embezzlement crimes, the person has responsibility over and access to the assets that are being stolen.

Embezzlement charges in California can result in severe penalties. A person could be sentenced to jail, and may be fined. He or she may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, and may be asked to undergo community service. The fine amount increases with the frequency of the crime, as well as the amount that is stolen. Typically, crimes involving amounts worth less than $400 may come with smaller penalties. However, when the money stolen is more than $400, then the person may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. A person can be sentenced to at least 16 months in prison and restitution.

San Diego criminal defense attorneys caution that, as in this case, an employee may be convicted of embezzlement even for such activities as knowingly submitting improperly completed timesheets. It is important for employees to be scrupulously when dealing with an employer's money or assets.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Hewlett-Packard and Turbon to Settle Toner Cartridge Trade Secret Lawsuit

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Turbon AG have agreed to settle a trade secrets lawsuit that accused the former of stealing trade secrets for toner cartridges. The lawsuit was filed by Turbon in June 2010, and accuses Hewlett-Packard of getting Turbon to disclose important details about its business, under the promise of a contract. Turbon filed a lawsuit seeking to bar Hewlett-Packard from using Turbon’s trade secrets for remanufacturing toner cartridges.

Last week, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Turbon announced that they have reached a settlement.

There were more legal developments involving Hewlett-Packard last week. The company sued its former ally, Oracle Corp. over a dispute involving the Intel Itanium microprocessor chip. Oracle Corp. announced that new versions of Oracle’s software would no longer support the Itanium chip, the microprocessor used by many of HP’s high-end servers. HP argues that dropping support for the microprocessor violates promises of continuing support for customers and is part of a plan by Oracle to force Oracle customers to use Sun servers instead of those manufactured by Hewlett-Packard.

Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, one-time allies with close to 140,000 common customers, have clashed several times over the past few years. First, the two clashed over former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Mark Hurd. Hurd was forced to leave soon after reports of an improper relationship with an office worker. He was quickly snapped up by Oracle, which hired him soon after. Hewlett-Packard filed a trade secrets lawsuit against Hurd after he was hired by Oracle. The companies managed to settle that lawsuit.

Then, Hewlett-Packard hired former SAP AG chief executive Leo Apotheker. While he had been employed at SAP AG, he had been engaged in a sometimes vicious copyright infringement clash with Oracle. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison charged Apotheker with a grand scheme of industrial espionage at SAP, focused exclusively on acquiring Oracle's trade secrets. Hewlett-Packard sprung to its new employee’s defense, assuring Los Angeles business dispute lawyers of a continuing battle between HP and Oracle.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

More Plaintiffs Join Bayer Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Bayer’s gender discrimination lawsuit just got bigger with more plaintiffs joining in. The lawsuit claims that the company discriminated heavily against women in pay and promotions, and that Bayer created a hostile work environment. The lawsuit now includes female sales reps at Bayer’s consumer unit, running into hundreds of workers in all.

The lawsuit is also now quite similar to the Novartis gender discrimination lawsuit which settled for $250 million last year. That lawsuit had claimed that Novartis encouraged discrimination against women in the workplace, and fostered a hostile workplace. As part of the settlement, Novartis agreed to pay millions in back pay and promotions, and also agreed to invest in programs helping female advancement in the workplace.

According to attorneys, Bayer was faced with evidence of discrimination, but chose to do nothing. California employment lawyers see similarities with the accusations against Novartis here - that company had also been accused of doing nothing in the face of evidence of discrimination.

The Bayer lawsuit also claims sexual harassment against female employees. According to one employee who testified, Vera Santangelo, she was subjected to lewd and sexually explicit comments by a male employer as she rode the elevator with him. Bayer’s response - avoid taking the elevator. To Los Angeles employment lawyers, this also brings back memories of the claims against Novartis. The company had threatened to fire a female employee after she alleged she had been raped by one of her customers.

Bayer seems to have learned nothing from that massive verdict against Novartis. Just a few months after the verdict against Novartis, executives at Bayer distributed an article that seemed to suggest that men were more suited for management positions than women. Women according to the article, were more prone to office politics, mood swings and indecision, and therefore, did not make good managers.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Massive $212 Million Jury Verdict against Allergan for Botox-Related Injuries

Allergan Inc., the company that manufactures Botox, received a major setback when a jury in a brain injury lawsuit awarded a $212 million verdict against Allergan, including $200 million in punitive damages.

The man's lawsuit claimed that he had been prescribed Botox to treat writer’s cramp in 2007. As a result of an autoimmune reaction to Botox, the man suffered a brain injury. The man claims that the brain injury has left him completely dependent on others for his care. He blames Allergan for failing to warn patients about the autoimmune reaction that could cause such a brain injury. Allergan has defended Botox, claiming that the drug had been put through numerous scientific clinical trials in order to verify its safety. The jury was unimpressed. In addition to the punitive damages, the man was also awarded $12 million in compensatory damages.

For Allergan, this is a major setback, because it is the biggest Botox verdict against the company. The last thing the company wants is for the American people to equate Botox with, is a debilitating brain injury. The company also faces allegations that it was aware that the botulinum toxin could travel far from the injection site, causing side effects and injuries. Children with cerebral palsy and adults who have been administered Botox for the treatment of muscular spasms and other illnesses have suffered serious side effects.

In 2007, Allergan warned doctors in the European Union about the risk that the drug could travel far from the injection site, possibly causing side effects. However, in the U.S., the warning was issued only in 2009.

The claims of side effects from the use of Botox are now likely to be examined more closely. Besides, Allergan is also facing two other lawsuits that make similar side effect claims against Botox. If those claims also end with jury verdicts against Allergan, then California pharmaceutical negligence attorneys expect to see a wave of Botox-related personal injury lawsuits against Allergan.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sacramento Court Rules Trial Justified in Elder Abuse Case

A Sacramento appeals court has held that an El Dorado man, who claimed that his mother suffered a painful death because of extreme neglect on the part of her long-term care facility, has the right to a jury trial. The decision comes in an elder abuse claim filed by the son of Doris Hilton, a resident at the Eskaton Care Center in Fair Oaks.

The 78-year-old Hilton was admitted into the facility in August 2006. She stayed at the facility until November 26 that same year, when she was transferred to the hospital and later died. According to her son Dennis Lee Haney, the facility waited until it was too late to admit her to the hospital.

He filed an elder abuse claim, that included a wrongful death allegation, but the claim was dismissed by a superior court judge in 2009. The nursing home insisted that the charges amounted to negligence, but did not meet the higher standards for elder abuse showing recklessness and malice. Haney appealed, and a Sacramento appeals court has ruled for him.

According to Haney, Hilton underwent great pain and suffering, and suffered physical and mental anguish due to the deliberate indifference of the staff at the facility. The woman was left without care or attention, and was not given enough medications to treat her urinary infection. Staff at the facility did not respond to her cries of pain, and the nursing facility was too understaffed to care for her. Eskaton continues to insist that it provided adequate care to the woman.

In many cases, elder abuse by nursing homes and long-term care facilities only comes to light when families and loved ones of residents notice signs of abuse and neglect, and bring these to the attention of authorities.

As the family member or relative of a nursing home resident, you are the person’s first line of defense against abuse or neglect by the nursing home. That's why it’s so important that you look out for signs of abuse and neglect, and consult a San Francisco elder abuse lawyer when you notice these.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Employers Can Be Sued for Retaliating against Relative of Worker Who Files Discrimination Lawsuit

California civil rights lawyers can chalk this one up as another victory for employee rights. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers can be sued for retaliating against a relative or close associate of an employee who files a discrimination claim.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision came in the case filed by Eric Thompson. In 2002, he and his then fiancĂ©e Miriam Regalado had been working at Acerinox SA North American Stainless mill in Kentucky. In 2002, Regalado filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging gender discrimination at the company. The following year, Thompson was fired.

Thompson sued North American Stainless for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from retaliation. North American Stainless disputes these allegations of retaliation. According to the company, Thompson was fired for poor job performance, and writing a memo to the company that was derogatory. According to the Supreme Court, Title VII in the Civil Rights Act exists to protect employees from the unlawful actions of an employer. In this case, firing Thompson was an unlawful action covered by the Civil Rights Act, even though he has not been the one who filed the original discrimination claim. The Court interpreted the protections of the Civil Rights Act broadly to protect all those persons within the “zone of interest” of the act in addition to those specifically mentioned in the law.

This is a huge victory for employees, especially in a climate where retaliation is one of the most frequent employment discrimination complaints. According to the Equal Employment Commission, in the year ending September 30, close to 100,000 discrimination complaints were filed with the agency. Retaliation accounted for the most number of complaints with 36,228 complaints.

The growth in the number of these claims could be due to the fact that the Supreme Court has consistently taken a hard line against employers who engage in retaliation. For instance, in 2009, the court held that employers could not retaliate against employees for cooperation with internal discrimination investigations.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

New Divorce Laws for California

Couples filing for divorce in 2011 could find that the process has just become more difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Starting January first, new laws require oral testimony by both parties, instead of just merely written testimony. Until now, this testimony was routinely given by written declaration and submitted to the court. The new laws will require oral testimony, unless both parties waive that right, or a judge finds good cause not to have oral testimony.

The California divorce court system is already bogged down with a backlog of cases, and can already be difficult to get timely hearings. California divorce lawyers expect plenty of delays. Oral testimony definitely has its advantages. For instance, it gives you a chance to get your voice heard by the system.

However, there are practical difficulties here. Oral testimony means that we need more courts and judges to handle the extra workload. The California government has been downsizing and making drastic budget cuts. In a situation like this, it is going to be next to impossible for courts to increase their capacity to hear additional oral testimony.

This year also saw some other new changes to California family law. AB 1050, for example, will amend the Family Code to require family courts to consider the preference of children while granting a change in child visitation schedules. For this, the child must be old enough to make an intelligent decision. The bill also requires a court to allow a child aged 14 years or over to address the court in matters regarding visitation and custody.