Thursday, October 6, 2016

Even when you win8 years later $260,00 against a cop, you lose

Photo shoot with a model's Mom today.  Moms just wanna have fun too!  Fine with me if they are also beautiful.  Does that make me sound like Trump?



10/06/2016 10:55 AM CDT

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Chad Craycraft and Katie Kennedy to the Texas Ethics Commission for terms set to expire November 19, 2019.


Sorry, technology isn’t easy—you take the time to learn, or you lose

Oct 3, 2016, 8:30 am CDT

California makes it a felony for prosecutors to withhold or alter exculpatory evidence

Oct 5, 2016, 3:00 pm CDT

Lawyer denies brandishing his gun during a deposition; court reporter kept typing in tense situation

Oct 6, 2016, 11:06 am CDT

Lawyers will have to cut 1,000 words from their arguments in federal appeals briefs

Oct 4, 2016, 10:40 am CDT

Model today was not your average grandmother. Patricia


Sanctions Sought for Stopping Witness from Sharing Any Criminal History During Deposition

, Texas Lawyer

In a proposed class action lawsuit targeting The Jewelry Channel, plaintiffs are seeking sanctions, arguing that a defense lawyer told a defense witness during a deposition to not answer questions about his criminal history.
In the litigation, Kabbash v. The Jewelry Channel, filed in Austin federal court, plaintiffs allege that the channel engaged in false advertising.
With the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking a court order allowing customers to return items purchased, stopping the channel from the alleged improper activities and disgorgement of revenues allegedly unjustly earned.
In their motion for sanctions, plaintiffs said defense lawyers instructed a designated company witness not to answer questions about any criminal history.
"Questions regarding criminal history are relevant as they pertain to the credibility of any testifying witness, regardless of whether it is in the context of a trial or a deposition," the plaintiffs motion states.
At the deposition, held Aug. 24, when plaintiffs counsel Gregory Coleman of The Coleman Law Firm in Knoxville, Tennessee, asked about if the witness had any criminal history, defense counsel Michael Zachary of Andrews Kurth Kenyon of Palo Alto, California, jumped in.
"I'll just object to the question. There's no basis in a civil case like this to be asking questions like that," Zachary said. "…And regardless of the answer, I'll instruct the witness not to answer."
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of the Western District of Texas, who presides in the litigation, has scheduled a hearing about the sanctions motion for Oct. 24.
The Jewelry Channel has filed its response and objections to the motion under seal.


How can we make our justice system fair and humane for all Texans? State officials will consider several criminal justice reforms over the coming months, and we want to prepare you to help bring them about.
30 mins: Criminal Justice Reform
Thursday, October 20
6:30 - 7 p.m.
Texas communities need smart justice reforms, not "tough on crime" policies that are unjust and don't work. Find out what you can do to bring community policing to our cities, explore better solutions than prison for low-level, non-violent offenses, and keep our kids out of the criminal justice system and in school.

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Judge tosses verdict against cop in alleged road-rage incident, cites trial misconduct by lawyer

judge gavel
A federal judge in Chicago is citing attorney misconduct in tossing a $260,000 jury verdict on behalf of a woman who claimed she was injured by an off-duty Chicago police officer in a road-rage incident.
U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis said plaintiffs’ lawyer Dana Kurtz had shown a “pervasive and severe” pattern of misconduct at trial, the Chicago Tribune reports. Ellis said Kurtz had asked questions to elicit banned testimony, improperly coached witnesses and apparently made misrepresentations to the court.
“Rather than abide by rules with which she disagreed and take up those rulings on appeal as necessary,” Ellis wrote, “Kurtz chose simply to ignore them whenever convenient to her case.”
Ellis’ decision (PDF) overturned the excessive-force verdict for Nicole Tomaskovic, who alleged off-duty officer William Szura had slammed her against her car and a concrete barrier during the July 2007 incident, rupturing two discs in her back. Ellis did not award attorney fees to Szura and the city of Chicago, however, because the claims of Tomaskovic and two other plaintiffs were not frivolous.
Jurors did not award any damages to the other two plaintiffs who had alleged Szura forced them off the road and drew a gun. One said Szura struck her in the face and the other said Szura knocked her down. Tomaskovic had been following in another car, and ran to help the two women.
Szura had alleged that one of the women had pushed him and then all three attacked him, according to prior coverage by the Chicago Tribune. The incident had occurred when the women were on their way home from a gay pride parade in which Szura had worked crowd control. He alleged the two women in the car behind him were tailgating and one of them threw something at his vehicle. At the December trial, Szura testified that he braked and then pulled over to calm down.
The three women were charged with criminal battery, but were acquitted at a criminal trial in 2008, according to the prior Tribune story.
Ellis’ Sept. 29 opinion provided several examples of Kurtz’s alleged wrongdoing. At one point, Kurtz asked a police officer on the stand whether police are supposed to document instances when they draw their guns. The question “was a clear attempt” to elicit barred testimony about the internal police investigation of the incident, Ellis said.
Kurtz then asked the officer whether the officer was upset by the judge’s decision in the criminal case. That question sought to elicit banned testimony about a criminal court judge’s findings about the credibility of Szura and other officers, Ellis said. Kurtz also asked the officer about police rules regarding investigation of certain situations and forms that need to be completed in certain situations. Those questions were also designed to elicit testimony about the internal investigation, according to Ellis.
Ellis also said Kurtz gave an excuse that was “simply not credible” when she was reminded she should not ask questions about 911 calls because the court had not yet ruled on their admissibility. Kurtz had offered this excuse: “I’m sorry, Your Honor. I completely—no excuse, but I forgot you were going to review the 911, and I apologize. ” Yet the issue had been discussed less than two hours before, Ellis said.
Kurtz also asked one of the plaintiffs whether anyone at the scene was given a breath test for alcohol, even though Ellis had barred evidence about failure to perform such a test on Szura, Ellis said.
At another point Kurtz asked a police officer on the stand, “Would you agree that Officer Szura as an involved party should have been subject to the same type of examination as the girls?” Ellis said the question was another attempt to garner banned testimony, and Kurtz moved on after an objection, “apparently satisfied that she had sufficiently made her point to the jury that there was some sort of cover-up or conspiracy.”
Two of the plaintiffs and the plaintiffs’ expert also made statements that violated rulings on banned evidence, Ellis said. Tomaskovic twice testified about banned subjects, and when the judge asked if Kurtz had instructed her about banned topics, Tomaskovic said her lawyer had not given any such instructions. After court adjourned, Tomaskovic re-entered the courtroom, said she had not understood the question, and Kurtz had indeed told her before trial that there were certain things she couldn’t talk about.
“The court finds it ludicrous that after answering clear direct questions in the negative,” Ellis wrote, “Tomaskovic independently remembered that she did in fact receive preparation from her attorney and independently decided to go back into the courtroom to inform the court of her error.”
Ellis also said the Tribune had published an article about the case after the first day of trial that included audio files and 911 transcripts that had not been entered into evidence, as well as still shots from a day-in-the-life video showing Tomaskovic’s physical condition around the time of her back surgery. Kurtz told the judge she gave the reporter the video in 2013 but she did not give him the 911 materials. Ellis found that “the most likely scenario is that Kurtz or someone working at her direction provided the materials” to the Tribune.
“While it is possible that each individual incident, standing alone, should rightly be given the benefit of the doubt and would not merit a severe sanction,” Ellis wrote, “the continuous, repetitive nature of the misconduct, the fact that plaintiffs’ counsel did not improve her conduct in the face of numerous warnings, and plaintiffs’ counsel’s history of censure support the court’s finding that her conduct at trial was willful, egregious, and not entitled to a presumption of unintentionality.”
Kurtz had been previously sanctioned by another federal judge for “repeated attempts to introduce inadmissible and prejudicial evidence before the jury,” Ellis said. The judge in the prior case had granted a new trial.
The plaintiffs are represented by a new attorney.
Kurtz tells the ABA Journal in a voice mail message that the opinion is “very unfortunate.”
“The three women deserve justice,” Kurtz said. “I work very hard to do a good job representing my clients.”
Ellis had formerly worked as a lawyer for the city of Chicago defending police officers accused of wrongdoing, according to the Tribune.


Federal judge is tossed from two cases for repeated failure to rule on pending motions

A federal appeals court has removed a Mississippi federal judge from two cases because of repeated delays in ruling on motions.
In the first case, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals removed U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate from a civil suit filed against an electric utility by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the Clarion-Ledgerreports. The 5th Circuit issued its order granting Hood’s mandamus petition on Sept. 29.
Hood had told the 5th Circuit that a motion for judgment on the pleadings had been pending for more than seven years. Hood’s 2008 suit against Entergy Corp. had accused the utility of illegally manipulating the purchase and sale of electricity.
In the second case, the 5th Circuit ordered the transfer of another case from Wingate last month, then denied the judge’s request to allow him to keep the case, the Clarion-Ledger reports in another story.
That case was also filed by the state of Mississippi. The defendants, executives and an investor with a Texas company called KiOR, were accused of obtaining a state loan by misrepresenting the capabilities of technology that would produce oil from biomass.
Wingate had told the court he would rule on outstanding motions in three days if he could keep the case. In a court filing, Hood opposed Wingate’s request. “This is an unfortunate pattern in Judge Wingate’s court,” Hood wrote. “Indeed, it was only after a mandamus petition had been filed that the district court took any action. This is not the first time such inexcusable delays have occurred in that court.”


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