Criminal Law – Supreme Court Rules That Pre-Miranda Silence Can Be Used In Court

June 18, 2013

In order to invoke your right to remain silent, you must speak. Silence in and of itself is, evidently, not evidence of your intention to invoke protections provided by the Constitution’s 5th Amendment Rights and/or the Miranda Rights. I can understand the prosecutor’s claim that because he was not under arrest and was answering some questions and remained silent on some others, his silent could be use as evidence of his guilt. But, I think that is splitting hairs. The spirit of the law is to prevent a person who is not well versed on the laws to not say something, without the presence of his attorney, that might be self-incriminating.

The Supreme Court says prosecutors can use a person’s silence against them if it comes before he’s told of his right to remain silent.

The 5-4 ruling comes in the case of Genovevo Salinas, who was convicted of a 1992 murder. During police questioning, and before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights, Salinas answered some questions but did not answer when asked if a shotgun he had access to would match up with the murder weapon.

Prosecutors in Texas used his silence on that question in convicting him of murder, saying it helped demonstrate his guilt. Salinas appealed, saying his Fifth Amendment rights to stay silent should have kept lawyers from using his silence against him in court. Texas courts disagreed, saying pre-Miranda silence is not protected by the Constitution.

The high court upheld that decision.

via Supreme Court Rules That Pre-Miranda Silence Can Be Used In Court.

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Personal Injury – Bicycle Injuries – $5M Settlement in Truck versus Bicycle Accident

April 14, 2012

The interesting thing that I keep seeing in personal injuries resulting from intersection related incidents, is that the person who is in the intersection at the time the personal injury event occurs, regardless of stop signs and who did or did not stop at the signs, controls the the intersection and therefore has the right of way.

In the personal injury case illustrated below, since the Plaintiff must have already been in the intersection, therefore was in control of the intersection, had the right of way. The truck driver did not look to his right before proceeding into the intersection and hit the biker causing him catastrophic injuries.

In other words, just because a person failed to stop at a stop sign, does not give green light for other drivers to plow them over…

A case involving an elderly bicycle rider who lost part of his leg after a truck struck him recently settled for $5 million.The case stems from an Aug. 14, 2009, accident between Paul Zanoni and a Mack truck.

On that date, Zanoni rode his bicycle home from church when a truck owned by Rossi Contractors Inc. of Northlake hit him near a Bellwood intersection, said [Plaintiff’s Lawyers].

Zanoni did not stop his bicycle at the crosswalk near the intersection of Madison Street and 25th Avenue in Bellwood, he said.The truck’s driver, John O’Shea, moved through the intersection but did not look to the right and struck Zanoni, he said. Zanoni became trapped under his bike and the truck dragged him about 40 feet before stopping.

via Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – The City’s No. 1 Source for the Law Profession.

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A World Without Lawyers

March 26, 2012

I have heard many tales about how life would be if only lawyers would not be around. You know, the joke that goes something like this: “What do you call a dozen lawyers dead at the bottom of the sea?” and the answer is something like: “a good start.” We have all heard the lawyer jokes and I always get a good chuckle out of them. But in reality, the world would be a dismal place was it not for us lawyers who are the last line of defense between those who place money and profit ahead of all else including the safety of the people around them. Lawyers are making sure your rights are preserved and those who do harm are held accountable for their action.

It is all about personal responsibility.

A World Without Lawyers
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Criminal Law – Go to Trial – Crash the Justice System

March 19, 2012

In this era of mass incarceration — when our nation’s prison population has quintupled in a few decades partly as a result of the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury. Most people charged with crimes forfeit their constitutional rights and plead guilty.

“The truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used,” said Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the libertarian Cato Institute. In other words: the system is rigged.

In the race to incarcerate, politicians champion stiff sentences for nearly all crimes, including harsh mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws; the result is a dramatic power shift, from judges to prosecutors.

via Go to Trial – Crash the Justice System – NYTimes.com.

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