The Call of Duty

It is inescapable. It reaches out to us all. There is no running, there is no hiding. No matter how rich, powerful, influential, famous, or infamous you are, you will be called to duty. Not just any duty – one duty in particular. Jury duty. Wednesday, August the 5th, 2015, one of America’s most recognizable figures was called to jury duty in Dallas, Texas – Former President George W. Bush.

The list of individuals who are exempt from jury duty is extremely small, including only active members of the armed forces, police and firefighters, as well as “public officers” of local, state, and federal government. Notice there is no category for former presidents. George W. Bush may have once been the leader of the free world, but he was not free from reporting for jury duty.

Predictably, the 43th president of the United States was not selected as part of the jury panel. Juries must be totally unbiased and must represent a cross section of the population. While former presidents are technically part of the rich mosaic from which a “cross section” of the population could be drawn, it is likely that the judge and the attorneys involved in the cases believed that Former President Bush would be more of a distraction to the jury than anything else. While President Bush likely has a keen legal mind, it may have been difficult for the other potential jurors to move past his presence.

Typically, jurors are selected through a process calledvoir dire. The term originates from Old French and translates as “to speak the truth,” which is exactly what jurors are being asked to do. The voir dire process is designed to weed out jurors who might have trouble looking at the case fairly, or might introduce preexisting biases or prejudices. Keep that in mind next time you are called for jury duty!

Getting a Motorcycle License

What could be better than cruising down a beautiful, open desert road with the wind in your hair, music in your ears, a beautiful sunset beside you, and nothing but freedom and adventure ahead of you? Well, maybe skip the wind in your hair part. If you are living this fantasy, it probably means you are driving your motorcycle, which also means you need to be wearing a helmet. Still sounds pretty spectacular though doesn’t it? If you want to turn this fantasy into a reality, maybe it is time to get a motorcycle driver’s license.

So what do you need? Well, the requirements for obtaining an Arizona motorcycle license are all relatively simple. Instruction permits can be given out as early as 15 years and 6 months old, which means that potential motorcycle owners can start learning at a very young age. For safety reasons, drivers with instructional permits are prohibited from carrying a passenger.

For prospective motorcycle enthusiasts age 16 or older, you need to start out by completing a Driver License / Identification Card Application. Next, applicants must complete a motorcycle driver education program which has been approved by the Motor Vehicle Division. Alternatively 30 hours of motorcycle riding practice can be completed. If you have already met these requirements in another state, and carry a valid out-of-state motorcycle license, these steps can be skipped.

There you go! You are ready to hit the road on your motorcycle. Remember though to always exhibit caution when you are riding. Motorcycles do not offer the same structural support and protection as cars. Accidents can be much more deadly when involving a motorcycle. Take things easy, follow traffic laws, and wear a helmet. With the proper precautions,you can enjoy riding your motorcycle for many years to come.

Famous American Speeches: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

America has a long, storied and glorious history. It is built on the backs of legendary figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and many more. Each of these individuals was brilliant, hardworking, charismatic, and brave. Another trait they all shared: a gift for oration. More simply put, they inspired people by delivering historic, revolutionary, heroic speeches.

The year was 1775. The date: March 23. Patrick Henry stood before the Virginia Convention at St. Johns Church in Richmond, Virginia. The British army was preparing to move against Virginia and the revolutionary war was just weeks away from beginning.

Patrick Henry’s speech established much of the philosophy that America was built upon. He began by saying, “I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.”Does this sound familiar to anyone? Patrick Henry was talking about freedom of speech before such a concept even existed. He wanted nothing to hold him back from speaking from the heart and saying what he truly believed.

He later stated “It is natural to man to indulge in the illusion of hope.” This is the basis for the “American Dream.” The “American Dream” is all about social mobility, hope and creating a better future. Patrick Henry believed that this was a natural and essential trait in humans. A trait that America would not just value, but find foundational.

He concluded his speech with the words “give me liberty or give me death!” This roused the delegates of the convention to create a militia and defend Virginia against the British army. America at its core is a country based on freedom. Patrick Henry believed that there was nothing in life more important than freedom, not even life itself.

The Lacey Act and Cecil the Lion

The sad and regrettable killing of Cecil the Lion has recently taken a grip of the national news cycle. The story has been convoluted and the information difficult to understand. So what exactly happened in Zimbabwe? Moral judgments aside, what are the legal ramifications of these events?

Minnesota based dentist Walter Palmer shot and killed a 13-year-old rare black-maned lion named Cecil. He was quickly labeled a “foreign poacher” by a government minister in Zimbabwe. Palmer himself maintains that the hunt was legal, and had been sanction by the proper government administration.

The story became an internet phenomena as wild life activists quickly indicted Palmer for killing a rare animal strictly for sport.

As public attention around the story grew, the great hulking attention of the U.S government was drawn and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service began an investigation into the matter. As of Tuesday, August 5, that investigation was still ongoing. It is believed that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is looking into possible violation of the Lacey Act in regards to the incident.

The Lacey Act, passed in the year 1900, was aimed at supporting conservation. The act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. The application of the act will, in large part, depend on the details of Walter Palmer’s hunting trip. Was it truly legal and sanctioned by Zimbabwe, or was he indeed an illegal foreign poacher?

The Justice Department has stated that it could not formally begin any prosecution until the Fish and Wildlife Service has finished its investigation. The legal ramifications of the entire incident hinge on the application of the Lacey Act, a law passed 115 years ago.

A Litigious Happy Birthday

It is rare for a lawyer to gain status as a hero, let alone be looked at as celebrity. So what gave New Orleans based attorney Morris Bart his cause célèbre, his status first a hero, and second as an internet celebrity?

The power was all given to him by one little two year old boy named Grayson. It is impossible to figure out how children become obsessed with the things they love. Sure it makes sense that they like firetrucks, dinosaurs and astronauts, those are all flashy and cool. Who wouldn’t be a fan? Barney, the Teletubbies, SpongeBob SquarePants, or Yu-gi-oh these are all a little more inscrutable. Sohow about a lawyer? How did young Grayson come to be obsessed with Morris Bart?

“Before he could walk or talk, every time the Morris Bart commercial would come on, he was just fixated,” says Grayson’s mother, L’erin Dobra. “You couldn’t talk to him. You couldn’t do anything with him. He would just sit and stare at the TV. You could call his name, give him a toy. He didn’t care. He just wanted to watch the Bart commercial. He’s been that way ever since, and when he started talking,” she said.

L’erin Dobra was well acquainted with her son’s obsession. When it came time for her to plan Grayson’s second birthday party a theme occurred to her – Morris Bart. That’s right. A Morris Bart themed birthday party. Grayson’s mother held nothing back when planning the party. People came dressed as lawyers and there was a Morris Bart birthday cake. Mr. Bart himself event sent over some birthday presents. Word of the party later reached the internet and the story went viral, quickly turning Morris Bart and Grayson into minor internet celebrities.

Will you go out with me? Just Sign Here!

Does anyone else wish that there was a little more regulation in the dating world? A few more rules, or maybe a dedicated set of complex standards? Perhaps a governing body to watch over the entire dating institution? Well probably not. Most people are already stressed out enough by dating. Such a prospect would probably terrify them. Not true for this particularly litigious couple!

Lawyers live in a world of complex rules and regulations. Everything must be spelled out carefully and defined to a “T”. They are probably confused how the rest of the world survives without so much structure. One specific lawyer, whose identity shall remain anonymous, has discovered a way to bring this structure to the dating world – through contracts. Even more surprisingly he has found someone to sign his contract and thus begin – legally – to date him.

This dating contract, which took effect on July 28th, proposed a “mutual bilateral promise” to go on at least one date. The stipulations of the date where specific, detailing a requirement for at a minimum, “either a wine and movie night or dinner and drinks.” No risks of being stood up on this date!

Probably the sneakiest, and by far the cleverest element of said dating contract was the inclusion of an automatic renewal clause. These clauses are annoying on gym memberships and online subscriptions; imagine having one of them attached to your relationship. This term states that unless notice of termination is given by either party, the binding dating agreement will continue to be renewed in one week intervals in perpetuity. Oh, and notice of termination must be provided three months ahead of time!

Remember to check the fine print on the next contract you sign. You don’t want to end up in a relationship without fully thinking through the legal repercussions!


Common Injuries from Slips and Falls

Worrying about slips and falls may seem a little silly at first glance, but they are much more serious than most people ever realize. Did you know that over 1 million people a year are seriously injured as the result of a slip or a fall? Did you know that approximately 17,000 people a year die as a result of these accidents? That’s right, that little puddle you see on a restaurant floor could be dangerous. So what are some of the more common types of injuries that result from slips and falls?

Bumps and Bruises – Bumps and bruises are by far the most common type of injury that results from a slip or a fall. Your arms, shoulders, legs, sides, and butt are all particularly susceptible to forming large, painful, yellow, black and blue bruises. These bruises are rarely serious but that can impact your way of life. They are tender and even the slightest touch to a bruise can fill you with pain! It always seems like they last for weeks on end, too.

Broken Bones – Obviously a broken bone is way more serious than a simple bump or a bruise. They result in severe pain, require immediate medical attention, and can leave you hung up for months at a time. Some broken bones can still cause you pain even long after they heal.

Head Injuries and Concussions – This one is serious, too. If you slip and fall and hit your head, you should seek medical attention without any hesitation. Our brains are complex machines and the last thing that anyone wants is for that machine to be damaged. Concussions can result in major and long lasting symptoms including: drowsiness, pain, memory loss, nausea and vomiting.

Never take your health for granted. If you experience a slip or fall seek out immediate medical attention, and follow through by contacting an attorney to explore your legal options.



A Profile of the Phoenix Commuter

With Proposition 104 coming up for a vote soon, transportation has become an increasingly hot topic around Phoenix watercoolers. Aside from the few individuals who are lucky enough to get to work from home, most of us have to commute to work. Phoenix is a large metropolitan city but the average Phoenicians’ commute is approximately 26 minutes, right in line with the national average. So how are most of these people getting to work? The majority of our city’s great residents commute by car, however millions of other individuals use buses, or the light rail, while others walk or bicycle to work.

Drivers – When we say a majority of Phoenix commuters drive, we mean an overwhelming majority. 87 percent of workers get to their job by car. Traffic in Phoenix is not great, but it is far from abysmal, plus drivers appreciate the freedom that cars provide. Do you want to stop for a bite to eat or a coffee on the way to work? With a car that is no problem!

Light Rail – The light rail is a relatively new form of public transportation, debuting for use to the Phoenix commuter in 2008. It stretches 20 miles from Mesa to Phoenix. The light rail sees approximately 14 million riders a year with a demographic largely composed of college students.

Buses – Buses are Phoenix’s second most popular form of transportation. Bus routes cover a majority of the city allowing commuters to get almost anywhere they desire. Our buses give out 58 million rides a year. Bus passengers make up about 4% of total Phoenix commuters.

Pedestrians – It probably does not come as much of a surprise that not many people walk to work in Phoenix. Only about 2%, or 12,000 people a year brave the heat and the sun during their commute. Hopefully, they bring a change of clothes to work – if not, pity their coworkers.

Cyclists – The smallest group of all. Only about 4,000 people a year bike to work. Increasing this number is a point of emphasis for Phoenix law makers as biking is a form of clean transportation that is also good for your health!


Proposition 104 – Public Transportation

It is almost voting time everyone! Are you ready? In fact some Phoenix household may have already received their early ballots and started sweating out their tough decisions. Every voter’s opinion is important and unique, but voting is also a huge responsibility. The best thing a voter can do to prepare for this responsibility is to educate themselves aboutthe topics on which they will be voting. So what are the hard facts regarding Proposition 104?

Proposition 104 proposes an expansion to Phoenix’s public transportation system. This expansion comes with a price tag – 31.5 billion dollars to be precise. That is a large amount of money, so where exactly is all that that money going to come from? Well it is not going to appear quickly. It is going to be gathered slowly through taxes over the course of 35 years. Is that burden of voter responsibility feeling a little heavier now? Your vote could impact the City of Phoenix for 35 years!

The current rate of city tax is 2.0%. This tax rate is set to last through 2020 after which it will revert back to 1.6%. Proposition 104 will gather its $31.5 billion by increasing the City of Phoenix tax rate by 0.3%. This increase would bring the total rate of city tax up to 2.3%.

Of this $31.5 billion dollars, $6.66 billion will be committed directly to the development of the light rail. This would expand the light rail by 41.2 miles at a cost of approximately $161,650,485/mile.

Armed with this information, each individual voter can start to think about their decision. Consider the pros and cons of the proposition. Think about the long-term and short-term effects of the proposition and decide if you think Prop 104 is right for Phoenix.


Consequences of Running Red-Lights

We have talked before about the legal and financial consequences of running a red-light. Sure a ticket might cost you up to $250 dollars, and a few points might be added to your license, but in a wider scope those are relatively minor consequences. The true cost of running red-lights cannot be measured in a dollar amount. The true cost of running red lights is the cost of life.

Every year the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration puts together a detailed list of statistics regarding traffic accidents and incidents. Did you know that according to their Fatality Analysis Reporting System, or FARS, there were 30,057 fatal crashes in 2013 alone? Their most recent data shows that red-light running crashes alone caused 762 deaths in 2008. That is 762 totally avoidable deaths. According to one of their administered surveys, “one in three people claim they personally know someone injured or killed in a red-light running crash.”

Red-light running accidents are uniquely dangerous because they typically happen at high speeds. If someone is running a red light they are usually not slowing down. People run red-lights either out of disregard or because they are not paying attention to the road. In both scenarios it is rare for the driver to have a chance to slow down before a collision occurs. Sometimes these accidents can cause a chain-reaction of collisions with one car being flung into another which is in turn flung into another.

The best way to avoid these deadly collisions is to simply pay attention to the road and consider the consequences of your actions. It is never worth it to run a red-light. You put yourself and other drivers in danger. The last thing anyone wants is to become a statistic in the Federal Highway Administration’s database.