ABA Says It Is Okay To Internet Stalk Jurors

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Facebook Stalking

Lawyers who want to pick through troves of public information that jurors or potential jurors put on the Internet about themselves may do so, but they may not communicate directly with the jurors, such as asking to “friend” them on Facebook, according to a formal ethics opinion issued by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professionalism.

Formal opinions are based on the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which have been adopted by all states except California. The rules are not binding but serve as models that can be adopted or modified. Formal Opinion 466 addresses three situations concerning lawyer review of the Internet footprints of jurors or potential jurors.

• Looking at information available to everyone on a juror’s social media accounts or website when the juror doesn’t know it’s being done. The opinion says the “mere act of observing” is not improper ex parte conduct, much as driving down a juror’s street to get a sense of his or her environs isn’t.

• Asking a juror for access to the his or her social media. The opinion says that is improper, much like stopping the car to ask the juror’s permission to look inside the juror’s house for a better view.

• When a juror finds out, through a notification feature of the social media platform or website, that the lawyer reviewed publicly available information. The formal opinion says the social media provider, not the lawyer, is communicating with the juror, the same as if a neighbor saw the lawyer’s car pass by and told the juror.

See, Lawyers can look up jurors on social media but can’t connect with them and FYI – The ABA Says It Is Okay To Facestalk Jurors

 

Plaintiff’s Lawyer Barred from Defense’s Medical Exam

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A plaintiff’s attorney is not allowed to be present during neuropsychological testing of his or her client, a Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas judge has ruled.

Addressing an issue that has apparently gone largely untouched by appellate court review, Judge Bradford H. Charles based his decision mostly on the defendant’s doctor’s ethical objections and the fact that the plaintiff’s attorney had not been present when the plaintiff’s doctor examined the plaintiff.

Although the plaintiff had argued that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure give plaintiffs the right to have counsel present during independent medical examinations, Charles looked to a 2013 Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas decision, and determined that the attorney could not be present for the standardized testing portion of the exam.

“Permitting a third-party observer to be present during [the defendant’s doctor]’s examination would create an injustice that we do not believe was contemplated by a global evaluation of Pennsylvania’s discovery rules,” Charles said.

See: The Legal Intelligencer’s, Plaintiff’s Lawyer Barred From Defense’s Medical Exam

My First Avvo Client Review “Excellent ★ ★ ★ ★ ★”

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Headhunting

Last week, I received my first Avvo client review. Avvo.com is an online legal services marketplace that creates a basic profile for every licensed attorney. Avvo’s lawyer directory provides Avvo-rated profiles, client reviews, and peer endorsements for 97 percent of all lawyers in the United States. While my current firm prohibits me from representing outside clients, Avvo attorney profiles are beneficial for developing a brand and building a network…

The Height in Professionalism and Courteous, Caring Service

When I met Andre Webb for the first time, and subsequently as he handled my legal proceedings, I was instantly impressed with his friendly, comforting and knowledgeable demeanor, which quickly put me at ease. While the legal matter turned out to be a brief one, he handled it with the out most in professionalism, and his caring and affable way really helped calm my anxiety in this unfamiliar and sometimes treacherous world that I’m so inexperienced with. It’s a great feeling to know that you have an advocate of Andre’s quality on your side, and his efforts are greatly appreciated by me. I consider him a valuable asset to his law firm, and I would certainly look forward to having him handle any further legal matters, while I also hope never to need to call upon him in the future. A true gentleman and a major credit to the legal profession.

See, My First Avvo Review. Thank you!

The Truth About Mentors

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“A truly great mentor is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget.” In short, a great mentor is invaluable. A mentor highlights areas of opportunity and improvement where one is oblivious. However, mentoring is a two-way street. You get out what you put in. Keith Lee of Associate’s Mind – one of my favorite legal blogs – posted an excellent piece on the value of establishing a mentor and cultivating the relationship. Great food for thought for any young professional. Here’s a brief excerpt.

The True Purpose Of A Mentor

Often times, the first word that people use to describe mentors is “cheerleader.” That a mentor is someone who encourages and praises you.

I have never found this to be the case. In fact, if all someone who was theoretically “mentoring” me did was offer praise and encouragement, I would not consider them to be my mentor. Sure there will be times that a mentor will offer praise. But those times will likely be few and far between. A mentor who only gives praise is more akin to a fawning parent. Nice to have, but not the purpose of a mentor.

A mentor is not only there to encourage you.

A mentor is not only there to motivate you.

A mentor is not only there to inspire you.

A mentor’s primary purpose is to cultivate growth.

And growth is not easy. Growth is change. Growth is painful. Growth involves leaving behind certain aspects of your old self in order to make room for what you want to become.

Continue reading at, Associate’s Mind Primer For Young Professionals Seeking Mentors.

Pennsylvania PIP Trivia

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A motor vehicle accident occurs in Pennsylvania. The injured party has a NC driver’s license and a NC registered vehicle with a NC insurance policy, but he or she now live in PA. Are they entitled to first party benefits under Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (“MVFRL”)? The answer is no. Here’s why…

First Party Benefits, at a minimum, provide up to $5,000.00 of medical coverage for an injured insured. At the insured’s option they may also provide, wage loss and funeral benefits. First party benefits under Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility

Pursuant to Pugh, “there are two requirements for determining an insured’s entitlement to recover first party benefits: (1) the insured vehicle must be a vehicle of the type required to be registered, such as an automobile, and (2) the insured vehicle must actually be registered in the Commonwealth.” Since the insured vehicle in the instant case is not registered in Pennsylvania, the insurer is not obligated to pay first party benefits under MVFRL. Pugh v. Government Employees Ins. Co., 380 Pa. Super. 606, 610 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1989).

As an aside, PA law also requires one to register their vehicle within 20 days of moving to the state.

Philadelphia lawyer faces $1M sanction in med-mal trial

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At the outset of trial, the judge instructs counsel that there is to be no mention of the victim’s smoking habit because it may unfairly bias the jury. During trial, an expert witness for the defense mentions the forbidden and the following ensues…

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto slapped Atty. Nancy Raynor with nearly $1 million in court sanctions Nov. 4 because one of her witnesses testified that a woman at the heart of a medical malpractice trial had been a smoker, breaching a court order against such a statement. The family of the woman, who had died of lung cancer, won a $190,000 verdict, but Panepinto reversed the award and ordered another trial, finding that the smoking reference had unfairly tilted the scales in favor of the defense.

The sanctions were intended to reimburse the woman’s family and her attorneys for the lost time and expense of the first trial. But the decision has triggered sharp criticism, not only from the society, but also from members of the defense bar and others, who say the amount of the sanctions is unprecedented, and, given disputed facts in the matter, unwarranted.

Defense attorney, Nancy Raynor, and members of the defense team say that she repeatedly advised the witness of the judge’s instructions. Unfortunately, Raynor’s malpractice insurance excludes coverage for court-imposed sanctions. Now, Doctor’s rally on behalf of lawyer facing $1m sanctions and the legal community in Philadelphia is in an uproar. Yet another reminder of the heightened stakes in our profession. See also, Lawyer sanctioned $1M for allowing smoking reference in med-mal trial.

Helping the Court Reporter

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A clean, coherent, and intelligible deposition transcript is invaluable to a trial attorney. It can prevent the waste of hours of trial preparation spent decoding same. It may also be the key piece of evidence used to impeach a witness during cross-examination and question his or her credibility.

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With that, know that the court reporter is your friend — help your friend help you. To do so, see this article that list best practices and suggestions for handling a court reporter at a deposition. A brief must read for any trial attorney.

When you’re taking a deposition, you know that ensuring a complete and accurate record is vital. So don’t take the person who’s dutifully taking down the proceedings for granted: Assisting the court reporter is not only polite, it might be the key to a clean depo transcript to use at trial.

Helping the court reporter start even before the deposition begins by

  • Showing up early to organize documents for convenient reference and mark them as exhibits.
  • Giving the reporter a copy of the case caption so the transcript will include the correct case name and court number.
  • If the deponent is an expert, offering the reporter a written glossary of unusual terms that will be used during the deposition.

Read more: Give the Reporter a Hand to Get a Clean Depo Transcript