DBTC Law Firm

Legal World

Practicing law has changed radically since the “good old days”

A retrospective compiled from our current staff and attorneys shows just how much things have changed. Our firm’s senior partner started practicing 55 years ago, but even our junior-most associate has seen big changes in the last two years.  Remember rotary dial telephones, onion skin carbon copies, pink slip telephone messages and ashtrays in every office? Read on for this review of “Oh my, how things have changed in the law practice!”

Docket Calls. Not so long ago, lawyers had to attend “docket call” in order to obtain a trial date or a hearing on a motion. Every circuit judge – and every chancery judge, too, before circuit and chancery courts merged – called his docket on a specified date each month or quarter. All lawyers with a pending case were required to attend in person in order to request a trial date or to advise the court of the status of the case. While lawyers complained that attendance at docket calls took precious time away from their offices, these mandated appearances actually fostered a sense of collegiality among members of the bar and often resulted in settlement of disputes.

Electronic filing and online access to court records. The federal courts, including bankruptcy courts, were the first to require all pleadings and other documents in a case to be filed electronically, rather than in paper form. Now, our state courts are beginning to follow suit. All Pulaski County Circuit Court case filings must now be made electronically. Washington and Benton Counties are not yet set up for electronic filings but it is only a matter of time before they, too, are on board. And, although all filings are not yet made electronically, court records in most Arkansas counties are accessible online.

Social media. Social media has changed the face of litigation. Its impact in domestic relations and juvenile cases, in particular, has been huge. Parties and witnesses will have been fully vetted by opposing counsel through searches of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and embarrassing and incriminating posts may well come back to haunt them. In Donley v. Donley, 2015 Ark. App. 496, the Arkansas Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting into evidence screenshots of Facebook comments and photos. Undoubtedly, new rules of civil procedure and evidence will eventually be implemented to govern the discoverability and admissibility of various forms of social media.

Technology. Nothing has caused the practice of law to change more profoundly than advances in technology. Communication by email, instead of “snail mail”, is now the default means of communicating with clients, other lawyers, and court personnel alike. Facetime and Skype often make in-person meetings with clients and witnesses unnecessary. Video depositions and attendance at depositions by video conferencing are commonplace. Discovery responses are now provided in digital formats – DVDs and flash drives – instead of on paper. And, of course, word processors have made those old memory typewriters and floppy disks obsolete!

Alternate dispute resolution. Mediation and arbitration are being utilized more and more often as a less expensive and less time-consuming method of resolving disputes. Only in recent years have certified mediators been available to assist parties in resolving cases. Arkansas courts have embraced the concept and many judges now require the parties to attempt mediation before going to trial.

Dress code. Even styles of dress have changed over the years! In the “old days”, lawyers routinely wore suits to work, whether they were due in court that day or not. When “casual Fridays” became popular, many lawyers followed the trend and dressed down on Fridays. Now, attorneys in many offices are as likely to wear jeans on a Monday as on a Friday – as long as they are not in court!

Although much about the practice of law has changed since the “good old days”, much also remains the same. As we adapt to the fast changing world around us, the Davis Law Firm continues to strive to provide the extraordinarily high quality of legal services which our clients deserve. We still abide by the ethical rules and principles which have long governed our profession. And, as always, our loyal clients remain our singular focus.

 

 

 

 

 

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” – John F. Kennedy

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often the real loser — in fees, and expenses, and waste of time. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln

Mediation has changed the face of litigation in recent years and substantially reduced the costs of resolving legal disputes. What is mediation?

Mediation is a form of conflict resolution involving the use of a mediator or neutral person to facilitate the exchange of information and positions between parties with the ultimate goal of reaching a resolution of the conflict between the parties. The mediator does not decide the case or make any rulings regarding the case, but serves purely as a neutral to help the parties work out the issues in their particular dispute. Mediation is often voluntary but is sometimes ordered by a court. To encourage open discussion, any statements made during the mediation are completely confidential and cannot be used by either party at a later date, such as a trial or hearing. Confidentiality is critical to the mediation process and is further supported by Arkansas statute prohibiting the use of any statements made during the mediation process in subsequent litigation.

The first stage of mediation usually involves a session where the parties meet together with the mediator and are able to openly discuss the facts and circumstances of the case from their respective viewpoints. After the initial opening session with all parties present, the parties typically break into caucuses to meet privately with the mediator. Again, confidentiality is critical and the mediator does not share any statements made by a party in a private caucus with the other parties involved unless he or she has permission to do so. Sometimes the parties will reconvene in additional joint sessions and other times remain in their private caucuses and share information and settlement offers back and forth in an effort to reach common ground. The goal is to reach a settlement agreement between the parties at the end of the day.

Why is mediation successful? Mediation is successful in large part due to the impartial nature of the process which allows the parties themselves to determine how to resolve their case as opposed to a judge or jury deciding the case for them. Thus, the parties are empowered to reach a resolution that is agreeable to them without having another entity dictate the result of their case. The confidentiality is also critical to the success of mediation in allowing parties to share information without fear of that being used against them at a later date. Further, mediation encourages the parties to explore various options and ways to resolve the case and sometimes encourages creative resolutions that could not be considered by a court or jury within the confines of the jury trial system.

The Davis Law Firm is proud to have three certified mediators. Don A. Taylor is certified in the areas of civil and probate litigation, Josh McFadden is certified in the area of civil litigation, and Brian Lester is certified in the area of family law litigation. With these areas of certification, the Davis Law Firm is uniquely positioned to mediate a large range of cases for litigants in an effort to achieve amicable resolutions of disputes.

Charging Too Much Interest? Your Goose Is Cooked. Charging Too Little Interest? The Goose Cooks You.

Over the past ten years, the maximum constitutionally allowed rate of interest in Arkansas has been a moving target, leaving businesses and financial institutions with little sense of certainty in regard to how much interest they are legally allowed to charge. Failure to abide by the Arkansas Constitution’s usury requirements has resulted in debts being declared void and creditors being held liable to repay debtors twice as much interest as the debtors paid on the usurious loans. This issue has been further complicated by the Internal Revenue Service’s policies regarding taxing interest on no interest loans. While banks and sophisticated lenders are usually informed on these complex rules, privately negotiated loans involving individuals and small businesses regularly run afoul of the rules, leading to unexpected and unhappy results.

Prior to the 1980’s, an interest rate greater than 10% per annum was considered void in Arkansas as to both principal and interest. In the 1980’s, Arkansas voters approved Amendment 60 to the Arkansas Constitution (identified as Article 19, §13), which specified that the maximum legal rate of interest would be set at 5% per annum above the Federal Reserve Discount Rate at the time of the contract, with an additional cap for consumer loans and credit sales being set at 17% per annum. Under Article 19, §13, a usurious contract could result in interest, principal or both being declared void as well as entitling a debtor to damages of double the interest already paid.

The variable maximum lawful rate of interest, which was set forth in Article 19, §13 of the Arkansas Constitution, caused tremendous confusion for persons wishing to charge lawful interest rates. First, the Federal Reserve Discount Rate, which served as the starting point for determining the lawful rate of interest, was abolished by the Federal Reserve in January of 2003. See 12 CFR §201.4. This left Arkansas’s maximum lawful rate of interest in limbo until 2006, when the Arkansas Supreme Court clarified that the Primary Credit Rate was the natural successor to the Federal Reserve Discount Rate and, therefore, should replace the Federal Reserve Discount rate for purposes of calculating the maximum lawful rate of interest. See Pakay v. Davis, 367 Ark. 421, 241 S.W.3d 257 (2006).

Second, Arkansas Constitution Art. 19, §13(d)(i) provided for an assumed 6% interest rate in all contracts in which no interest rate was previously agreed to by the parties. Such a provision seemed viable, so long as the Federal Reserve Discount Rate/Primary Credit Rate was greater than 1%. However, once the Primary Credit Rate dropped below 1%, in 2008, the Arkansas Constitution appeared to be internally contradictory. The 6% assumed interest rate, which was required by Art. 19, §13(d)(i), was considered unlawful because it exceeded 5% per annum above the Primary Credit Rate. Perhaps no one conceived of the possibility of interest rates dropping as low as 0.75%.

In light of these shortcomings, in 2010, Arkansas voters approved Amendment 89, which repealed Arkansas Constitution Art. 19, §13 in its entirety. Amendment 89, which became effective on January 1, 2011, establishes that the maximum interest rate allowed in Arkansas is 17%. This is a departure from the fluctuating interest rates that were calculated as part of now repealed usury provisions of the Arkansas Constitution. Amendment 89’s streamlined approach establishes a general maximum lawful interest rate to apply to the vast majority of loans and contracts. Only government bond transactions (under Ark. Const. Amendment 89, §§2 and 4), national banking association loans (under 12 U.S.C., §85), and loans from federally insured depository institution banks with their primary office in Arkansas (under Ark. Const. Amendment 89, §2; 12 U.S.C., §1831u) fall outside the limits of the 17% maximum rate. The fixed 17% maximum interest rate affords lenders, businesses and individuals greater certainty in their efforts to avoid charging unlawful interest rates. This ease of compliance is particularly important due to the harsh penalty for failing to comply with the usury requirements of Amendment 89. Under Amendment 89, loans that exceed the maximum lawful rate of interest are void as to both principal and interest. In essence, the creditor loses the ability to collect from the debtor.

While Amendment 89 removed some of the more complicated aspects of the previous usury provisions of the Arkansas Constitution, it left a vacuum in relation to one key issue. Unlike the previous usury provision, Amendment 89 does not address the rate of interest a party can collect on a contract in which no rate of interest was agreed upon by the parties. The previous usury provisions of the Arkansas Constitution accounted for such a situation by allowing for an assumed rate of 6% interest, but those provisions have been repealed and there are currently no Arkansas statutes to fill the gap. With this omission, lenders, businesses and individuals who have relied upon the assumed 6% interest rate for decades may be left to the discretion of the courts with respect to the collection of interest on contracts that fail to include a specified rate of interest. It is thus exceedingly important for anyone who enters into a contract to ensure that the contract specifically states the exact interest rate to be charged and that the rate is not in excess of the maximum lawful interest rate allowed under Amendment 89.

Even though it is now much easier to make sure one steers clear of charging more than the lawful rate of interest, it is also important to note that not charging enough interest is also an issue. Generally a below market loan, especially those payable over a period greater than six months, are subject to re-characterization by the Internal Revenue Service to impute interest. That means that some number of past years’ tax returns have to be amended from both sides of the transaction – taking time, money and effort, and drawing additional IRS scrutiny. The IRS is aware that some individuals in an attempt to avoid paying ordinary income on interest earned will instead charge little or no interest but have a higher principal on the loan. This is often done in an attempt to convert ordinary interest income to capital gains which is often taxed at a preferential rate. In order to prevent this from happening, the IRS can re-characterize the loan to either include imputed interest or to require an original loan discount be taken on the principal amount. One needs to be especially careful in intra-family loans to make sure the appropriate interest rate is charged or there might be gift tax implications to such loan. Before entering into a below-market or interest free loan be sure to check with a tax adviser to review the possible implications of such loans or one could be very surprised by the changes the IRS makes to the loans and the corresponding tax returns, even if the taxpayer had no ill intentions when the loan was originally made.

 

Checklist for Home Purchasers

Don’t let the American dream become your personal nightmare: Purchasing a home is considered by many to be a defining mark of maturity and success.  It is a complex transaction where very much can go very wrong, where responsibilities overlap, and where important issues can be overlooked among the involved group of realtors, title agents, home inspectors, and attorneys. An attorney should review your purchase agreement and closing documents, but there are lots of other things to attend to; this checklist may help.

CHECKLIST FOR HOME PURCHASERS BEFORE CLOSING:

1. Have someone (home inspector, contractor and/or seller) familiarize you with the home systems and provide all available directions and manuals for the following:  (a) kitchen and other appliances; (b) water and water shutoff valve; (c) smoke detectors; (d) location of gas supply; (e) alarm systems; (f) HVAC systems, air filters and changing;  (g) fire  sprinkler systems; (h) pool and hot tub; and (i) landscape irrigation systems.

2. Immediately re-key locks upon possession.

 3. Check school boundaries as they exist and as they may be under review, and confirm with local school district in writing.

 4. Carefully read and understand homeowners insurance coverage.

 5. Check neighborhood rules: These may be a result of city ordinances, property covenants or property owners association: (a) architectural controls on exterior colors, siding or roof style; (b) types and height of fences; (c) limitations on number and type of vehicles, such as campers and boats, that can be parked at property; (d) restrictions on businesses that can be run out of home; (e) restrictions on types, sizes or breeds of animals; (f) erection and maintenance of sheds and outbuildings; and  (g) involuntary dues and assessments.

 6. Check on tax exemptions: Arkansas has a homestead exemption from property tax; other states have exemptions for permanent occupants and transfer taxes– check with tax assessor.

 7. Consider a home warranty.

 8. Be aware of income tax benefits of of deducting interest on the mortgage loan and property taxes; however homeowners’ insurance, the portion of mortgage payments that are principal, and many closing costs are not deductible.

 9. If the house is under the care of a landscaper, meet with the landscaper to understand the cost, services and problems relevant to the landscaping.

 10. Purchase of a new home is a good time to reevaluate critical personal documents: wills, powers of attorney, life insurance, disability insurance and auto insurance.

 11. It is generally a very bad idea to use retirement plan funds to purchase a home: It converts liquid assets into illiquid assets; subjects the retirement funds to loss if the residence has significant problems or gets caught in a bad real estate market; and generally indicates that you are spending too much for a home if you have to use your retirement plan.

 12. Expenses of home ownership are almost always greater than anticipated– especially if you are moving from a rental situation. Installation and revision of cosmetic items (paint, wallpaper, floor coverings and wall coverings); landscaping and equipment costs; and home maintenance costs and equipment can be significant, unforeseen homeowner expenses.

 13. Upon moving in, video, save to disk, and put in your lockbox, each room of the house, which creates at very low expense and trouble a very good record of personal property in the event of fire, theft or other insurable loss.

 14. Schedule and monitor your own renewals: Termite, stucco bonds, alarm systems and homeowners insurance will typically notify you of renewal, but if they fail to do so, or you do not receive the notice, you can lose critical coverage that might not be renewable.

 15. Purchase contracts should always have clauses, which buyers should always take advantage of, allowing them to have a professional inspector review the premises and provide an acceptable report before closing.

 16. Procure and carefully read the Title Insurance commitment to look for limitations on this insurance, including the existence of easements (visible and invisible) for drainage, water and sewage lines, power lines and setbacks.

 17. Without a current survey, the proper location of fences and driveways is not assured. If there is any question at all about whether the existing driveways and fences are properly located with respect to property lines, a current, certified survey may be a very prudent investment.

 18. Request copies of utility bills for the prior three years to properly plan for such expense.

 

The “Powerful attorney”

What is the #1, simplest, quickest, cheapest, easiest, most effective and universally-applicable legal action you can take to benefit yourself?  Answer:  A Durable/General Power of Attorney, sometimes jokingly or mistakenly referred to as “the powerful attorney.”

 

Most people are surprised to find that the dictionary does not define “attorney” as a lawyer, but rather an “agent,” a person who is authorized or deputized in behalf of another to act for them.  An “attorney at law” is thus, properly speaking, someone’s agent with respect to legal matters.  However, a “Power of Attorney” is not limited to legal actions, but is simply authority given by one person as the principal, to another person to act as their agent.  It does not have to be in writing, but proving that the attorney has been appointed, and the scope of their duties, is difficult if it is not in writing.

Learning the simple terms:

A “General Power of Attorney” is the granting by one person to another of general and unlimited authority to act in the principal’s behalf.  This is as opposed to a “special” or “limited” Power of Attorney which might be limited to a single transaction (closing on a house, signing a tax return, voting shares of stock, etc.).  Finally, a “Durable Power of Attorney” leaves the appointed attorney/agent with authority to act for the principal, even if the principal is so incapacitated that he cannot legally act for himself.  Thus, a Durable/General Power of Attorney is written authority from one person to another, by which the person appointed as the attorney or agent can act in all matters for the principal, even if the principal, himself, is legally  incapacitated.

Why Is This So Important?

All persons of legal majority potentially have legal actions that must be taken in their behalf– signing tax returns, making medical decisions about their care, signing loan documents or managing their assets, whether that be a $50 checking account or a $50 million investment account. Incapacity can occur at any age and stage of life: it can be a traumatic coma resulting from a car accident to the young head of a family, or age-induced dementia to an older person. Without a Power of Attorney in place, all of the financial, legal and business affairs of a person suffering such disability must be handled through a probate court proceeding called “guardianship.”  Though designed to protect the assets of the incapacitated person, guardianships are quite expensive, quite burdensome and quite inflexible, and can result in the court naming as  guardian a person whom the incapacitated party would never have chosen for that task if they had been given, prior to incapacity, that choice.

Why Is It So Practical?

A person holding a General Power of Attorney has unlimited legal authority to manage all of the affairs of the incapacitated person without the bother, cost, delay or inflexibility of a guardianship, and, most importantly, the person appointed as the Power of Attorney would in fact be the person selected by the now-incapacitated person.

Why Is It So Simple and Cheap?

Durable/General Power of Attorney forms are prepared on standard formats, the fee for which is typically low, relative to other legal services. They can be configured to not come into effect unless and until the principal becomes incapacitated.

How Are They Typically Used?

Typically, a Power of Attorney is given back and forth between spouses; parents and children; and other family members who have a trusting relationship and who are simply designating through the Power of Attorney the person that they would prefer be the guardian if an incapacity occurs.

Caveat:

While a simple document, its ramifications and the details of its implementation are such that the advice of an attorney in implementing a power of attorney should be sought – at the price, it is indeed a “penny’s worth of prevention” to avoid a “dollar’s worth of cure” if it has not been correctly accomplished and is later needed. Also, though a person holding a Power of Attorney is in a fiduciary position, legally obliged to carefully and faithfully exercise the authority so given, it can be abused.  To use that authority to steal funds from the principal or otherwise abuse their interest is a breach of fiduciary duty which may give rise to civil or criminal liability.  Choice of the agent, and empowering them with this document, is a decision requiring careful selection.

 

Typically, a Durable/General Power of Attorney is a single element of a more comprehensive estate plan; however, it is probably the cheapest, most effective and helpful part of an estate plan and can be used, independently, of any other legal actions.

Lawyers and Mandatory Tithing

Mandatory Rules of Professional Conduct regulate the professional behavior of attorneys. A breach of these rules can lead to sanction and even loss of the right to practice law. They cover many areas of which the public is generally aware, such as avoiding conflicts of interests, being truthful and honest to the court, confidentiality of client information, and declining spurious lawsuits. Less known is the ethical obligation of each lawyer, each year, to contribute at least 50 hours of pro bono publico (free) legal services, as well as to contribute financial support for legal services to persons of limited means.  These contributions ethically required of lawyers’ time approximate at least $7,000 per year in free legal services for  the community and its indigents from each licensed Arkansas attorney. Despite abundant criticisms and jokes of lawyers’ ethics, we are proud that the legal profession may be the only vocation that obliges its members to tithe for the public good. Our firm performs these services in many ways, from assisting indigent clients, to providing service to legal boards, to providing support for the proper regulation and supervision of the practicing bar. Sometimes, these donated services can be quite challenging and  interesting.

An exhaustive list of the pro bono publico services performed by this firm would be too lengthy and boring to recite. But here are some examples of how our firm is proud to serve its ethical obligation to assist the public through its legal abilities:

In order to assure competency of new lawyers, each applicant for a law license, in addition to having a law degree, a clean background and recommendations of good character, must pass an intensive and rigorous examination on the law–the “Bar Examination”–which takes two full days and typically has a passing rate of approximately 80%. The importance of fairly, thoroughly and objectively grading these examinations is obvious. The lawyers who grade the exams are chosen from prominent attorneys throughout Arkansas and appointed for a six-year term as “Bar Examiners” by the Arkansas Supreme Court. Such service requires approximately 80  hours per year of uncompensated time. We are pleased that a member of our firm has served as a Bar Examiner.

The formal, written rules of civil litigation, designed to make it as simple, fair and efficient as possible, require periodic review and updating, ultimately for the benefit of everyone who may find themselves in a civil lawsuit. Updating is accomplished through a select committee of experienced lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court. Our members have served and chaired that committee.

Charitable agencies through Northwest Arkansas are necessarily in the business of raising money to spend for community needs. Every dollar that can be saved in their operational costs is a dollar that goes to the good of the community. Service on the boards of these agencies is specifically included within the ethical requirements for public service where such service saves critical resources for the charity’s purposes. Over the years, various members of our firm have been proud to serve on the boards of organizations such as the Northwest Arkansas Community Foundation, Lifestyles Foundation, Inc., Fayetteville Public Library Foundation, Inc., Habitat for Humanity, Inc., Fayetteville Youth Center, Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library, Washington Regional Hospice Program, Fayetteville Autumnfest, The United Way, Buffalo River Foundation and the Legal Aid Equal Access to Justice Panel.  In that capacity, they provide assistance in drawing bylaws, contracts and other legal documents necessary and helpful to those organizations so that their limited resources can be applied to further community benefit.

Our firm has provided presentations to local charities for the disabled on how special trusts can provide benefits for developmentally challenged individuals without losing the substantial government benefits for their care and training.

The firm, through its members, provides substantial financial support to the Arkansas Equal Access to Justice (Legal Aid) Foundation, and accepts assignments to represent clients for free from both Legal Aid and Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly. Such cases that we have handled for free include these:

  • negotiate the restructure of a mortgage to avoid foreclosure for a gentleman whose divorce, followed by his disability, left him with insufficient funds to pay his current mortgage payments;
  • assist in the adoption, by a grandmother, of a child whose parents were imprisoned drug abusers;
  • represent an unemployed father in a custody battle with the unemployed mother of three young children;
  • represent a single mother/student with young children in her claims against a landlord for wrongfully evicting her in the middle of the winter;
  • assist grandmother in securing guardianship of grandchildren from their drug- addicted daughter to her sister;
  • assist a blind client, whose roommate had stolen his identity, cash and credit, with discharging the resulting fraudulent credit charges and criminally prosecuting the roommate.

Though the performance of these free legal services are mandated under our ethical code of conduct, we find that our firm, through its members, regularly exceeds the obligation to perform such services to our community, and are proud to fulfill these obligations to the excess.

Service of Process Requires “Minding Your P’s and Q’s” to Avoid Being Outfoxed by Wascally Wabbit Lawyer Tricks

In order for a lawsuit to properly begin, the lawsuit (“complaint”) must be filed in the proper court and then “served” on the defendant by any one of a number of prescribed procedures. If the complaint is not properly served, that is grounds for the defendant to seek dismissal of the lawsuit. Lawyers who do not scrupulously and carefully abide by all of the requirements for service may find themselves outfoxed by clever opposing counsel and thrown out of court – for good!

 

Serving the complaint on the defendant requires the inclusion of a “summons” to advise the defendant he has been sued and how he must answer the lawsuit to avoid default.  The summons and complaint must be served within 120 days after the lawsuit is filed, or an extension formally procured from the court, or the service is deemed ineffective.

In the case of Wilson v. Union Pacific Railroad, 2011 Ark. App.508, Mr. Wilson sued Union Pacific Railroad for work-related injuries. The summons prepared by his attorney erroneously noted that the defendant had 20 days to file the answer, instead of the 30 days permitted by the Rules. Thus, the service did not comply with the Rules.

In addition, service was not accomplished until 181 days after the complaint had been filed. When the defendant formally answered the complaint, the answer  asserted without any specificity that the complaint should be dismissed based upon insufficiency of process (improper listing of 20 response days instead of 30) and insufficiency of service of process (service too late). Wilson’s lawyer, who had made the mistakes in process, spoke to the Railroad lawyer and received assurances that dismissal of the case would not be sought because the number of days for response was erroneously stated in the summons (insufficiency of process).  However, the issue of service on the 181st day was not raised between the lawyers.

The case went forward, formal discovery was accomplished, time passed and, after the statute of limitations had run to file the case, the defendant Railroad moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that service had been late (insufficiency of service of process). This deficiency had not been waived by the defense counsel, service was unquestionably late and the trial court dismissed the case “with prejudice,” meaning it could not be brought again anywhere, any time, any way.  This result was appealed by Mr. Wilson, and the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court was correct; service had not been properly accomplished and, with the statute of limitations now expired, the plaintiff could not re-file the case and thus had no remedy for the alleged wrongs.

This, indeed, was a case where a significant claim was thrown out of court on mere technicalities. The plaintiff’s lawyer did not mind his “P’s and Q’s” in carefully following service procedure, and the defendant’s lawyer laid a clever and effective trap by letting the issue lie until the statute of limitations had run.

 

Tweeting and Sleeping at the Wrong Place and Time Gives Reprise to a Murderer.

17-year-old Derrick Jefferson was robbed and then shot to death in Benton County. His murderer, Mr. Dimas-Martinez, was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for aggravated robbery and capital murder. During his trial, one of the jurors slept intermittently, and another juror, despite instructions from the judge otherwise, persisted in tweeting his friends throughout the trial. On appeal, even though it was argued that the sleeping juror heard “the vast majority” of the evidence, the juror was disqualified. The tweeting juror, because he could not follow the judge’s instructions (which were to not tweet during the trial) was deemed incapable of following the judge’s other critical instructions as to findings and was thus also disqualified. The case was reversed and remanded to the trial court for another trial. Moral of the story:   If you are a juror and do not want your several days of jury duty to go to waste, keep your fellow jurors awake and make sure they follow the instructions of the judge–including not tweeting! (Dimas-Martinez vs. State, 2011 Ark. 515)

RATINGS AND FINDING A LAWYER

Every client wants the best possible lawyer at the best possible price to represent them.  Unfortunately there is no simple, uniform, universally-accepted system or method for finding or rating a lawyer.  Finding that lawyer, whether it is your first legal engagement, or you are an experienced lawyer looking for assistance in a different locale, can be as difficult as it is important.  However, there are dependable ways to search for proven, effective lawyers.  Using peer review rating systems, online data and old fashioned networking provide reliable means of finding and choosing the right lawyer for you.  The Davis Firm is proud to have significant experience, loyal clients and very high objective peer ratings. Continue reading