Evading Jury Duty

Skipping Jury Duty seems like a harmless act.  Sure, most have been tempted to toss their Jury Duty summons in the garbage and pretend it never arrived. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like I did anything illegal—false.

If you ignore a Jury Duty summons in Arizona, then the sheriff’s deputy might show up at your door with a bench warrant. Evading jury duty is considered a type of fraud. Fines of up to $2,000 dollars can be levied; jail time is also a possibility.

Arizona is actually lax compared to other states when it comes to the evasion of Jury Duty. In Massachusetts, 48,000 people were fined $2,000 each for missing jury duty. Los Angeles has levied a total of $940,000 in fines over the past year.

Jury Duty Incentive

The most basic incentive for showing up to Jury Duty is the obligation you owe your fellow citizens. In order for justice to be administered, the right to a fair trial with a jury of your peers is an absolute necessity. If that is not enough, often times you can receive pay from your employer while serving as a juror. Moreover, Jury Duty in some cases becomes a paid endeavor, and restaurant coupons and free parking is the norm.

Legitimate Reasons for Skipping Jury Duty

It is estimated that around 25 % of all jury duty summons actually are lost in the mail due to inaccurate or outdated information. Moreover, many have legitimate excuses that bar them from participation in Jury Duty, such as handicap or illness.

What is not a legitimate excuse is missing Jury Duty because of work or school. Your employer cannot reprimand you for being absent from work while serving jury duty; most colleges and university have policies in place for students who miss class due to Jury Duty.

Sport Safety for Children

Children are being exposed to competitive sports at a younger and younger age every year. Kids as young as five begin participating in baseball, basketball, gymnastics, running, swimming, or tennis. All of these activities are no doubt healthy in moderation, but when parents declare their child has what it takes to be an Olympian at age seven, trouble will most likely arise.

Children’s bodies are fragile and perhaps not equipped to handle the rigorous training that is becoming increasingly popular. Moreover, some parents encourage their child to specialize in a sport before trying them all out. As a child, sports are about developing health, teamwork skills, and a desire to win. It is not fair to your child to declare them an Olympian at age six; if they have what it takes to be a professional athlete it will be obvious when their bodies finally develop.

A unique threat to childhood athletes is the pesky affliction of growing pains. It may be too long ago for you to remember the sting, but growing pains are extremely painful and the source of much suffering for children. Taking an anti-inflammatory, soaking the affected region in ice, or showing sympathy for the athlete are the most effective remedies for growing pains. However, there is no cure. Your child will have to suffer.

Repetitive motion injuries are amongst the most common for childhood athletes. The overuse of the shoulder or elbow in baseball leads to tendonitis, a painful injury. Also, a similar injury known as tennis elbow results from excessively swinging a racket in tennis. Sports that incorporate running and jumping also tend to strain the knee. These type of injuries are best treated by rest. Also, exposure to ice and intense heat can ameliorate some of the symptoms.

Salvation Army Frames the #thedress to Discourage Domestic Abuse

The #thedress debate swept across the internet, beguiling fans over whether the depicted dress was an imposter, parading around as an optical allusion. The #thedress portrays a yellow striped dress amidst lighting, and then claims to show that same dress with an absence of lighting. The effect is the dress turns blue. Many are skeptical if the two images depict the same dress.

The Southern African branch of the Salvation Army took the #thedress to the next level by tweeting an image of a women in a similar dress, with the subtitle “why is it so hard to see black and blue.” The women was covered in bruises to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a serious global issue, affecting one in six women world-wide. The idea is that the only illusion in the picture is if you think domestic violence is a choice. Indeed, the myth that woman are in some way responsible for their own abuse is absurd and offensive.

The ad was designed by the Ireland/Davenport agency and portrayed in the Cape Times Newspaper on Friday Morning. A Salvation Army Spokeswoman commented, “We have two homes for abused women and children, Carehaven in Cape Town and Beth Shan in Johannesburg. TSA in South Africa brings awareness to this problem, which is huge.”

Hours after the ad began attracting attention, the Salvation Army in Canada tweeted the same image. Hastings and Hastings is proud to support the efforts of TSA to fight against domestic violence. The empowerment of women over the past 30 years is a testament that people are beginning to jump on board with civil rights. However, as Hilary Rodman Clinton states, “there is still much to be done.” Woman still make less money than men, and are outnumbered significantly in the board room.

#X— A Campaign to Combat Texting and Driving

More than 3,000 teens die every year due to accidents caused by texting and driving. This accounts for 300 more deaths a year than teen deaths caused by drunk driving accidents. What’s worse is that 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving suggesting that we motor vehicle operators are amidst a serious crisis.  Texting and driving is absolutely inappropriate and dangerous.  While focusing on the screen of your multimedia device, you are operating a one-ton projectile speeding at 60 mph, blindly.

That is why at Hasting and Hasting we support the #X (hashtag x) campaign. Users can text, tweet, or post #X to their friends and family in order to remind them of the dangers posed by texting and driving. The text #X alerts the reader not to look at their phone. It is a reminder of the dangers posed when drivers take their eyes off the road to engage in a text.

Getting people to circulate #X is an element of AT&T’s campaign, “It Can Wait,” whose goal is to discourage people from texting while driving. It has gained the support of more than 1,500 organizations, and has enlisted celebrity help from the Tim McGraw and Demi Lovato to spread the message via social media. So far, the campaign has racked in 5 million pledges against texting and driving.

The campaign can be likened to efforts to change behaviors such as smoking, wearing seat belts, and drunk driving. #X is like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). However, counterpart campaigns such as anti-smoking propaganda took much too long to take effect. #X needs to be implemented now. The number of accidents associated with texting and driving continues to climb, and the longer we wait, the worse things will get.

Dangerous Social Media App, Yik Yak

Yik Yak was created by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington to create a social medial platform where users could remain completely anonymous. This is enticing to those individuals hoping to avoid a digital footprint. It has been called the liberalization of social media. However, it has become a huge problem for academic institutions where the app is used as a playground for vicious cyber bullying.

Yik Yak is an anonymous messaging app that connects users within a certain geographical radius. It has been used to post amusing, meaningless gossip, and contrastingly, atrocious infringements on the fabric of justice, for instance sex tapes without user consent or videotapes portraying violence. The fathers of the app, Droll and Buffington refuse to release any information about users without a search warrant—only if the request deals with an immediate police concern will they violate their policy.

While freedom of speech is of course a great thing, Yik Yak has been causing immense trouble for universities. In an Eastern Michigan class, a University professor lectured on post-apocalyptic culture, while some 230 freshman began a separate conversation about the professor. Most of the content was extremely demeaning, often crude, sexually explicit and derogatory. Margaret Crouch, the professor attacked on Yik Yak, was not at all amused by her student’s tom foolery. She immediately bombarded the administration with detailed emails concerning the offensive comments made about her on Yik Yak.

“I have been defamed, my reputation besmirched. I have been sexually harassed and verbally abused,” she wrote to her union representative. “I am about ready to hire a lawyer,” Crouch said.

However, nothing could be done. Yik Yak is completely anonymous. The company refused to reveal any information regarding the user accounts, so there is no way for the school to know who was responsible for the posts.


Lawyers Seek to Defend Justice in College Sexual Assault Misconduct Claims

Colleges have recently come under scrutiny over the frequency of sexual assaults on campus. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has been pushing for increased regulation of sexual assault on campus. Some schools have responded by adopting a standard of clear convincing evidence, dropping the policy of a preponderance of evidence. With the movement towards female empowerment, campus disciplinary procedures have tightened up. However, due process has been abandoned on campuses when addressing student-on-student sexual misconduct. Accused students are often expelled or subject to criminal charges without really having a fair shot to defend themselves.

Colleges have been adopting a policy of clear and convincing evidence in order to protect their image. The process in place at the moment is so lopsided against the defendant that it’s almost silly. Students accused of sexual violence cannot question witnesses directly or indirectly in interviews or hearings. That means a student could be expelled without having any idea who is accusing them of the crime. Moreover, many of these complaints surface a year after the alleged incident. Students claim that some purported victims of sexual violence are not always truthful, and sometimes are seeking revenge for their own poor decisions.

As a result of universities abandonment of the preponderance of evidence requirement, suits will flood in against colleges mishandling sexual violence and harassment investigations. Students victimized by a university commitment to upholding their image rather than administering justice, will be able to sue for monetary damages.

Harvard University attempted to employ a new university wide sexual harassment and violence policy last July, after catching heat for a sexual violence charge that was mishandled at the administrative level. However, 28 law professors from Harvard Law signed a letter published in the Boston globe in which they contended “The policy lacks the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and is “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”

Federal Jury Awards $491M in Trial over Funeral Scheme

In St. Louis a federal jury awarded $491 million in damages for a failed prepaid funeral scheme that is not unlike a Ponzi scheme. The company, National Prearranged Services Inc. (NPS) was siphoning money that was supposed to be held in a trust. Those individuals in charge, including trustee Allegiant Bank, allowed officers of NPS to siphon money for their own benefit.

The 97,000 victims including not only customers, but funeral houses, financial institutions, and insurers will receive a significant settlement. The jury awarded plaintiffs $355 million in compensatory damages, $35.5 million in punitive damages against PNC. Another $100 million was awarded against Forever Enterprises, a defunct company that did not appear in trial. Many of the company’s top executives, including CFO and CLO pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges. Six NPC officials were sentenced to prison terms, spanning from 18 months to ten years.

NPS was in business from 1992 to 2008. The company sold funeral plans that promised to keep the buyers money safe, and increase its value through investments until the time of the funeral. Typically, a deposit of $10,000 cash was given to NPS. This money was supposed to be held in a trust with the potential to increase threefold. Instead, it went into the pockets of company officers. Plaintiffs showed that liabilities had exceeded trust assets since 1990, and NPS was paying for funerals using cash from new customers.

The suit against NPS is a victory for justice. These customers trusted NPS to live up to their end of the bargain and they did not. Moreover, the fact that they took advantage of the dead is an absolute embarrassment and moral atrocity. NPS exploited the most vulnerable people possible. These grave robbers deserve to sit in jail.

2016 Law School Rankings Released

Every year the U.S. News ranks the country’s top 100 law schools. Law Schools struggle to move their way up the rankings, tightening admission standards and increasing funding. The list is highly regarded by Law Schools and prospective lawyers, and moving up in the rankings or at least maintaining is a top priority for every law school. Moreover, the biggest firms from the country recruit based off this list, so students attending schools considered elite (top 14), can expect generous 1st year salary’s from huge firms. That list of top law schools is as follows, as well as their position relative to the previous year:

1. Yale (no change)

2. Harvard (no change)

2. Stanford (+1; ranked #3 last year)

4. Columbia (no change)

4. Chicago (no change)

6. NYU (no change)

7. Penn (no change)

8. Duke (+2; tied at #10 last year with Michigan)

8. UC Berkeley (+1; ranked #9 last year)

8. UVA (no change)

11. Michigan (-1; tied at #10 last year with Duke)

12. Northwestern (no change)

13. Cornell (no change)

14. Georgetown (-1; tied at #13 last year with Cornell)



The biggest gain in the top 14 is Duke’s two point jump, which pushed Michigan out of the top 10. Stanford tied for #2, but this is generally erroneous. Stanford’s reputation is established and less dependent on U.S. News for its prestige.

The top 30 yielded some interesting results. Arizona natives will be proud to learn that Arizona State jumped up to #26 in the rankings from #31 last year—this ties ASU with BU. Impressive, considering BU enjoys the luxury of access to Boston’s large and established legal market. ASU also passed out William & Mary, Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater. At Hastings and Hastings, we have several ASU alumni thrilled with ASU’s ascension of the U.S. news rankings.

Commemorating Cicero

Attorneys everywhere ought to add Cicero to their list of mentors. The famous statesman, lawyer, and philosopher is a marvel of self-sufficiency, and basically responsible for modern prose and grammar conventions. Cicero fought for Rome rather than himself. All lawyers can learn a thing or two about service from Cicero.

Cicero thrived around 100 B.C. during the times of Julius Caesar and the 1st and 2nd triumvirate. He was born into Rome’s upper crust, receiving a quality liberal education from the finest schools. His ability in the classroom instantly attracted attention, and he was offered the chance to study law for free under Quintus Mucius Scaevola. At law school he quickly climbed to the top of the class, outwitting his professors many times with graceful humility. His career was launched with a bang, trying more cases than any young lawyer in Rome. It was not uncommon for Cicero to serve as the prosecution and the defense in the same trial.

Cicero was generally a harmless soul, and in the cutthroat world of the Roman Empire, he eventually paid for his life for his compassion. Only the protection of his country could ignite his aggression; and when he felt the pax romana was threatened, he quickly turned into a ferocious wolf. In 63 BC he discovered a plot to overthrow Caesar and the first triumvirate. He exiled the conspirators and put them to death. However, in 58 BC the second triumvirate took control and exiled Cicero, slaying his daughter for the execution of the conspirators. Cicero was devastated by the loss of his daughter, because she was the only person he ever loved. His grief led him to philosophy, and we owe stoicism and many aspects of modern grammar to this work. He was finally put to death by Octavian and his last words were, “there is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly.”

Law Student Involved in Product Liability Case for Diabetes Equipment Malfunction

Law student Abbie Harper from the University of Chicago—considered amongst the top tier law schools in the country— recently was found dead in her Hyde Park apartment. She relied on defective diabetic test strips, which were later recalled post mortem. Also, an incompatibility issue arose with the insulin pump she utilized, says a Business Wire press release.

“Abbie trusted and relied upon her diabetic test strips and glucose monitor. They were her lifeline. We hope this lawsuit makes the diabetic community more aware of the products that we believe failed Abbie, products she trusted to keep her alive,” said her parents in a written statement postponed on the website for Corboy & Demetrio, the law firm representing Harper’s estate in this case.

Product liability cases are very common in American society. Most recently, GM has come under intense scrutiny for crossing the wires associated with air bag functioning and standard ignition. As a result, air bags have triggered while cars are in transit, leading to the unfortunate death of hundreds. Abbie’s case is another example of a large company failing to live up to their end of the bargain. If a big company like GM kills a member of your family due to negligence, then it would be wise to contact a lawyer immediately in order to gain the compensation you deserve.

Harper was known through University of Chicago’s campus for her honesty, and transparent down to earth attitude. She was highly intelligent, compassionate, creative, and full of faith. She was a member of the Christian Legal Society, active in the Law School’s Women’s Mentoring Program, and she enjoyed mentoring undergraduates through the University of Chicago Careers in Law office. She was an avid writer and enjoyed to share her stories with the writing club at University Chicago. She will be missed by all she crossed paths with.