The Polish question

There is a concern in the European continent of there being a showdown between Poland and the European court of justice. An Ireland judge of the high court has refused to turn over to the Poland judiciary a polish man, Artful calmer, who was arrested in Ireland last year. The polish citizen was arrested on drug charges. However, Justice Aileen Donnelly has refused to turn him over and instead referred him to the European court of justice. She did this over doubts about the integrity of the Poland judicial system. Apparently, recent changes in the legislature of Poland had been too immense. This made the Ireland high court conclude that Poland’s law had been “systematically damaged “and so undermined the “mutual trust “that was in the European warrant process.

Laurent Pech, a law professor in the Middlesex University, gave her views to the Guardian. According to her, the consequences if the ECJ rules the polish judicial system to contrast with the European standards will be high. She said that when the ECJ ceases to recognize the Polish legal system as by the EU law, the commission will be forced to suspend Poland’s EU funding. The commercial arbitration of companies in Poland will significantly impact the government such that it cannot ignore it.

Last year, the Polish government was given direct control over the body in charge of appointing polish judges. Their minister of justice now has complete rights of appointment and release of court presidents. An estimate of about 40% Supreme Court judges has been forced into retiring early. There have also been accusations that the government and president Andrjez Duda, who is a former justice MEP, are in collusion. The allegations say that they are planning to take over Poland’s constitutional tribunal. This is the highest legal court in Poland.

However, the polish government holds that there is no threat to the law in its reforms. They say that the cynicism by foreign bodies is due to misinformation. Poland’s deputy Justice Minister, Marching Warchol, suggests that the Irish Court does not understand Poland’s reforms. Critics, however, are of the opinion that such arguments won’t do them any good in the EU courts. According to Tomasz Koncewicz, who is a law professor at the University of Gdansk, the focus is no longer on the political arena instead of the courtroom with its principles and logic. For Poland’s sake, it is hoped that European judges will recognize the seriousness of this situation and so will the EU at large.

CPS Supervisor Charged With Drunk Driving

A person who usually supervises CPS cases could use some supervision herself after she pleaded guilty to drunk driving and to resisting a police officer. Paula Lipinski is a CPS supervisor in Grand Traverse County, Michigan. She has worked in the position for several years.

However, she went with friends to a drinking establishment downtown Traverse City. When she went to leave, a bar employee thought that she was intoxicated. The employee allegedly went and stood behind her car to prevent her from leaving. The employee said that she drove about a foot anyways. She then left on foot.

When bar employees summoned law enforcement, the Traverse City Police responded to the scene. They say that Lipinski refused to cooperate with police. They released a short dash cam video that shows her lying on the ground in police custody. Some say that her actions mean that she is unfit to continue to work as a CPS supervisor.

Others say that the matter is more complicated. They say that it doesn’t make sense that bar employees followed Lipinski to her vehicle because she was with a group of friends. They say that bar employees wouldn’t have known that Lipinski planned to drive. Critics also say that it doesn’t make sense that bar employees stood behind the vehicle of a person that they believed to be intoxicated. They say that it doesn’t make sense that bar employees would put themselves in such danger when they could simply call the police.

The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor, Bob Cooney, charged Lipinski with drunk driving and with resisting and obstructing a police officer. Lipinski pleaded no contest to two lesser offenses. The plea of no contest has the same effect as a guilty plea. Lipinski must return for sentencing in April.

Cooney, who is running for judge of the local 86th District Court, told the news that he treats all people the same whether they are a government employee or not. Critics say that isn’t true, because Cooney refused to penalize the sheriff for issuing unlawful ticket incentives for his officers a few years ago. Cooney has won his elections for prosecutor unopposed. He faces challengers for the 86th District judge seat being vacated by retiring judge Thomas Phillips.

Lipinski faces up to one year in jail, fines and probation. She will lose her driver’s license for at least 30 days. There’s no word on whether Lipinski will keep her job as a CPS supervisor.


Lawyer Jeremy Goldstein Discusses Executive Compensation

Executive compensation now depends on the mandatory advisory vote, so it is more important than ever that shareholders are involved in the corporate landscape. With this in mind, companies are having a hard time determining when, how and whether or not corporate directors need to discuss executive compensation with the shareholders. In this article, Jeremy Goldstein lists the factors that companies may want to consider that will help them decide these issues.

In general, the main spokesperson needs to be the chief executive officer. If the primary architect of the company’s strategy is always the chief executive officer, the company will always have a persistent theme. The exception may be when the topic being discussed is executive pay.

The board approves compensation for the chief executive officer and other executives. Therefore, the best people to discuss payment for these individuals may be board members. Also, investors believe that chief executives are highly interested in their own compensation. If board members engage with shareholders on questions of compensation, they will demonstrate to investors that they are fulfilling their duty of overseeing company business as well as showing support for the company’s programs.

In all, for the reasons stated above, board members may be the most appropriate people to discuss matters of executive compensation. This, of course, will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual corporation.

The following components will help people decide whether or not a board member is the appropriate person to discuss executive pay:

  1. A Board Member Knowledgeable about Pay Programs

The most critical concern is whether or not the board member knows the subject at hand intimately. Shareholders are expected to engage in operations so that the company is trustworthy. It also helps to maintain credibility. A company will ensure that these goals are attained by choosing a spokesperson who deeply understands the executive pay program and can explain the reasoning behind it.

  1. The Topic that Is to Be Addressed

The topic that needs to be addressed will help you determine who the best person is to broach it. The best choice to speak with investors about the pay of a chief executive officer or other matters may be a director. If the topic will be a general compensation policy, someone other than the director may be a better choice.

  1. The Shareholders’ Preferences

One shareholder may wish to speak with one representative, but another may wish to converse with someone entirely different. There may be someone who would like to talk to compensation committee members, but sometimes, people do not want to talk to board members at all. The best way to encourage shareholder engagement is for a representative to be aware of each investor’s preference and go out of his or her way to serve those needs.

  1. The Individual/Shareholder

In most cases, a member of the compensation committee or the lead director/independent chairman will speak for the board when executive pay is being discussed. The compensation committee approves executive pay, so it may seem as if it is correct for the compensation committee chair to discuss executive pay. The fact is that the company wants to ensure that a singular message is always being given by the same person. Therefore, a lead director needs to be the one who is engaging with the shareholders. The best choice in this regard would be someone who is a member of the compensation committee and a lead director/independent chairman.

In the event that a director will be the one to discuss executive pay, these discussions must be one part of a larger communications strategy. If a shareholder needs to communicate with the directors, some companies have a corporate secretary who will deliver shareholder inquiries to the directors. Companies that have a director of corporate governance use this person for the purpose of sending messages to the directors.

Management and the board must come to an agreement on what types of topics the board will agree to discuss. These topics should only include items that are on the agenda. Directors must lead the conversation and not allow shareholders to steer the group into a discussion about financial performance and corporate strategy unless both sides have agreed to discuss these things before the meeting gets started.

Management has to be certain of two things, and they are the following:

  • Board engagement activities must be fully known.
  • Directors have all of the information that is needed to answer all investor questions. The messages must always be consistent with other corporate literature.

The company must decide beforehand whether or not management members will be allowed to be present at the meeting with investors. When this occurs, management will be informed about everything that was discussed. The head of investor relations, human resources executives, director of corporate governance and the general counsel are the most necessary attendees at these meetings. The directors will have the responsibility of informing the management team of the investors’ feedback whether the afore-mentioned individuals attend the meeting or not. This will ensure that full disclosure has been attained.

In order to keep from breaking securities laws, directors need to be familiar with Regulation F-D so that they do not inadvertently disclose information to investors that has not been disclosed to other market participants if their duty is to communicate with shareholders.

Headshot of Lawyer, Jeremy Goldstein
Jeremy Goldstein, Attorney at Law

About Jeremy Goldstein

Jeremy Goldstein was accepted at New York University School of Law where he received his Juris Doctor. He stayed close to this school after his graduation and is currently a member of the Professional Advisory Board for the NYU Journal of Law and Business.

Jeremy Goldstein was a partner in a major law firm with a focus on mergers and acquisitions early in his career. Some of the prominent cases he has been involved in include the acquisition of AT & T Corp. by SBC Communications, Inc. and the merger between Bank One Corporation and J.P. Morgan Chase & Company. He was also involved in Miller Brewing Company’s purchase of South African Breweries, PLC.

In 2014, Jeremy Goldstein founded Jeremy L. Goldstein and Associates, LLC. His practice focuses on executive pay as well as corporate governance issues. He counsels management groups, compensation committees and CEOs when they are in the process of undergoing corporate transitions and other difficult circumstances.

Jeremy Goldstein is a member of the American Bar Association Business Section. He is also the chair of the Mergers and Acquisitions Subcommittee. He supports mental health programs for people in his community as a member of the board of directors for The Fountain House.

Check him out on LinkedIn and

Read our previous Jeremy Goldstein post here.

Supreme Court to Hear Sales Tax Law

Almost every day, South Dakota retailers report that people come to their showrooms to look at products. These people ask questions and then leave. They then go home and buy that same product online to avoid paying any sales tax.

South Dakota does not have a state income tax, so the state relies heavily on sales tax revenue to fund the state’s programs. In 2016, the South Dakota Legislature passed a law that online retailers would have to start charging sales tax if they had over $100,000 in South Dakota sales or if they had over 200 separate sales from South Dakota residents.

This law was enacted in spite of the fact that the United States Supreme Court in the 1992 Quill case ruled that sales tax did not have to be collected if a business did not have a physical presence in the state. Some online retailers refused to pay the sales tax in light of the 1992 ruling. The state of South Dakota sued these retailers for non-payment.

The state of South Dakota has lost its case in all of the lower courts. However, the United States Supreme Court has decided to hear the South Dakota case and will take up oral arguments on April 17.

If the state of South Dakota should win in the United States Supreme Court, they estimate that it would bring as much as $50 million in revenue to the state each year. Other states anticipate receiving large revenue increases as well.

The key to the decision will likely rest with Justice Kennedy. In 2015, Justice Kennedy made a ruling on a different case that referenced the 1992 Quill case. Justice Kennedy commented that the 1992 physical presence ruling might need to be reviewed as out of date now that the internet age is upon us.

After the justices hear the oral arguments in April, there will be a period when they consider their ruling on the case. The decision of the court is expected to be revealed sometime in late June.

Shkreli Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison

A U.S. district court judge in New York sentenced Martin Shkreli to 7 years in prison for his role in defrauding investors. The judge also fined Shkreli $75,000. Shkreli made headlines year earlier when, as an executive of a pharmaceutical company, he excessively raised the price of a life-saving drug.

In a Brooklyn federal court, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto announced the sentence. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 15 years, while lawyers representing Shkreli had hoped for a sentence in the range of 12-18 months. As the sentence was announced, Shkreli did not appear to react.

Benjamin Brafman, who is one of Shkreli’s attorneys, said that he thought that the sentence was too harsh, and that Shkreli should have gotten less than a 7-year imprisonment. Though Brafmsn also added that the sentence could have been much worse, and that he believes his client will persevere.

Prior to sentencing, Brafman argued that Shkreli was a broken man who was suffering from anxiety disorder and depression. He further said that the government just wanted to throw the man away. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis countered that Shkreli deserved a 15-year sentence because his actions were not momentary lapses in judgement but instead continual patterns of fraud. She mentioned that Shkreli not only committed fraud in relation to the pharmaceutical company he ran, but also in regards to two separate hedge funds.

Shkreli, who is 34, was born to Albanian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, and he received the moniker “Pharma Boy’ in 2015 while running Turing Pharmaceuticals. It was then that he bought an anti-parasitical drug called Daraprim, and he infamously raised its price to $750 per pill, which was an increase of 5,000%.

In December of that year, Shkreli was indicted for an unrelated charge of securities fraud. Then, in August of last year, a jury found Shkreli guilty of defrauding investors in two hedge funds he was running: MSMB Healthcare and MSMB Capital. He was also convicted of scheming to raise the stock price of Retrophin, which was another drug company he founded in 2011.

At the sentence hearing, Shkreli emotionally told the court that he brought himself down through his shameful and disgraceful mistakes.

In addition to the $75,000 fine, Shkreli was ordered to forfeit $7.36 million after his conviction.

Fox News Agrees to Resolve Discrimination Case

The #MeToo movement has created a stir in national media outlets including cable news network Fox News. Allegations of misconduct toppled Fox News heavyweight and political commentator Bill O’Reilly. Many Fox News employees have spoken out against what they say are allegations of discrimination, a sexually-charged workforce and gender discrimination.

Diana Falzone was one Fox News journalist who said that the organization took it too far. She filed a lawsuit against her former employer. Fox News recently agreed to settle the claim. Falzone was a host of the Fox411.

Falzone accused the news network of removing her from on-air assignments because of gender and disability discrimination. She said that they took her off the air because she wrote an article about having endometriosis. Falzone talked about how she believed her medical condition would make her infertile.

She said that Fox News required all of their on-air women to be physically perfect. She said a woman with a medical condition didn’t fit Fox’s image and didn’t fit with the sexual objectification of their female, on-air talent. Falzone said that Fox News leadership took her off the air for three days after she published the article. She said management told her that she should look for another job and that she was banned from being on air.

Falzone said that she tried to handle the matter internally. She said that she filed a complaint of discrimination with the company. Falzone said that nothing was done. Falzone said that leadership at the news network is dominated by men. She said that discussing her endometriosis made her less sexually desirable in the eyes of the male leadership at the network.

Fox News denied the allegations against them. They said their business complies with all laws including anti-discrimination laws. They say that they make work assignments based on who deserves them. Retaliation and discrimination are prohibited behaviors they say.

However, this most recent claim isn’t the only one that Fox News has had to defend against in recent years. Even Fox News network executive Roger Ailes was sent packing after claims of sexual harassment. Gretchen Carlson was the first to accuse Ailes of wrongdoing. Her complaint led to Ailes’ firing after approximately 20 years of employment at Fox News. Bill O’Reilly also didn’t withstand allegations of harassment even though he hosted a very popular show during the 8 p.m. hour. Co-President Bill Shine also handed in his resignation in 2017.



Pornography Conviction Stands for Teenager

When teenagers first experience the excitement and freedom of their first cell phone, they’re often unprepared for the dangers that can come with the technology. Among other dangers is sexting. Teenagers might not understand that when they’re sending photos to friends, they might be breaking the law.

Washington’s Supreme Court just affirmed that teenagers can face a conviction for child pornography even when they send a nude photo of themselves. It’s no excuse that they’re underage or that they may not appreciate the law. In the case that the Washington Supreme Court reviewed, a 17-year-old boy sent a nude photo to a 20-year old.

State attorneys charged the boy with sending an image of a minor involved in sexually explicit conduct. The jury convicted the boy of the charges. The boy’s defense attorneys say that he has Asperger’s syndrome.

Bringing criminal child pornography charges against minors is not uncommon. The Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that approximately seven percent of child pornography charges today are because of children sexting.

Because of the conviction, the boy must register as a sex offender. He also received 30 days in jail and an order to complete 150 hours of community service. Because of a juvenile adjudication, the boy already had to register as a sex offender.

The boy’s defense team raised constitutional issues regarding the law. They say it violates the Fourteenth Amendment and Washington’s state constitution. The boy’s legal team argued that there are better ways to protect children than giving young people criminal records that drastically alter the course of their lives. They say that the behavior is innocent and common.

However, the judges disagreed. They say that the law applies equally to everyone regardless of their age. They say that the boy sent words along with the photo. They say that the words made it clear that the boy sent the photos with a sexual purpose. The court said that stopping and punishing child pornography is a serious and legitimate government purpose. The judges also say that there’s no general immunity for minors from any category of laws.

The court also rejected free speech arguments. The court said that speech is presumably free. However, they said that there’s no redeeming value in sexting. The court said that the State of Washington is fully within their rights as a government to prohibit teenage sexting. Teenagers convicted of sexting may have a permanent, adult conviction based on the rules of the state where they live.


Stormy Daniels Files Suit Against Trump Over Confidentiality Agreement

Pornstar Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit against United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday declaring that a prior confidentiality agreement between the two has no merit because it is not signed by Trump.

Daniels is referred to as Peggy Peterson, while the president’s moniker is David Dennison in the agreement. Trump chose not to sign the agreement in order to provide the opportunity to deny knowledge of the agreement if ever needed.

Daniels accepted $130,000 from Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen who says she used his own money to pay Daniels. The revelation by Cohen is said by Daniels’ lawyers to mean that there is no binding agreement between the two parties.

Lawyers for Daniels argue that even if their client was obligated contractually by the agreement the terms were breached when Cohen commented publicly on the matter.

Cohen, while speaking to the New York Times on February 13, said that neither the Trump Organization or members of the Trump administration had paid back the money to him that he had given Daniels. Cohen did not say whether Trump or anyone else had repaid him however and has been on record with complaints that he had not been reimbursed.

The suit points out that Cohen made no denials of a sexual relationship that took place between Trump and Daniels because to do so would have been to make false statements.

Attorneys for Daniels point to what they term as a “bogus arbitration proceeding” that was held at the end of February without Daniels’ knowledge as evidence of an ongoing attempt by Cohen to gain her silence by intimidation. The result of the hearing was Cohen obtaining a restraining order against Daniels that prohibits the adult film star from providing details of her relationship with the president or filing a lawsuit over the matter.

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer that has recently taken up the cause of Daniels, says that he does not the order that was granted at the February 27th hearing to be a valid one.

The suit includes a copy of the original contract that was signed by Daniels and Michael Cohen, who signed as a representative of Essential Consultants, the company established by Cohen to facilitate the money transfer to Daniels.

George Cohen, a professor specializing in legal contracts, says that the legal issue is whether or not the contract was to be made valid only through a signature from both parties. And if so, did the signing of the agreement by Essential Consultants happen while the company acted as an agent of President Trump.

District Court Judge Recommends Trump Mute Twitter Followers Instead Of Blocking Them

Donald Trump isn’t afraid of lawsuits. According to some reports, Trump is a lawsuit junky. He has more than 4,000 lawsuits under his belt. One of the latest suits is all about Trump blocking people from seeing his Twitter feed. Evidently, some of Trump’s non-supporters gave Trump a dose of his own Tweeting medicine, and the president didn’t like it. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University’s lawyer Katherine Fallow told the Judge Naomi Buchwald Trump’s Twitter account is an official government account that acts like a government forum. Department of Justice lawyer Michael Baer wants the judge to drop the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. Baer said blocking Twitter followers does not violate the First Amendment. Mr. Baer said Trump is not regulating access to Twitter’s public forum.

U.S. District Judge Buchwald suggested both parties agree to Trump muting followers instead of blocking them. Fallow thought the judge’s idea wasn’t a perfect solution, but it might work for her client. Baer also thought muting is a better solution than waiting for the judge to rule on the case. The judge told both lawyers if they don’t settle the case, they might not like her verdict.

Trump’s Twitter account has more than 50 million followers, but only seven of those followers filed a suit against Trump. It’s safe to say Trump blocked more than seven followers, but no one is saying how many people Trump doesn’t want to hear from on Twitter.

The list of Trump lawsuits is a long one. Trump has real estate suits, tax suits, employment suits and numerous other suits in his lawsuit resume. The latest lawsuit that could make Trump cry uncle is the lawsuit filed in California by an alleged lover. The alleged lover, Stormy Daniels, claims her agreement to stay quiet about her affair with the president before he was president is null and void because Trump didn’t sign the agreement. Trump’s lawyer signed on Trump’s behalf. Trump claims he never had an affair with Daniels even though Trump’s attorney paid her $130,000 right before the 2016 election. That payment may be grounds for more legal action because election rules prohibit that kind of secret transaction.

Lawsuits are an everyday fact of life for Donald Trump. Some people say Trump lives to fight court battles. He has the money, so he can go the distance in these lawsuits, but in many cases, he just settles the suits, and he calls it a win.



New Law May Increase Your Car Insurance

If you live in Nevada, then you may be paying more for your car insurance in July. All drivers will be required by law to have $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $20,000 in property damage coverage. The new law will not go into effect until July. However, insurance companies are already making changes in order to ensure that consumers meet the limits.

Las Vegas has one of the highest car insurance rates in the country. Car insurance rates have increased by 31 percent since 2011. This is 20 percent higher than the national average. The average annual premium in Las Vegas is $2,322. The average premium in the United States is $1,422. The average insurance rate in Nevada is $1,802.

According to, there are several reasons that car insurance rates are increasing. The insurance industry is just like any other business. The cost of owning a business increases as time goes own. That is why insurance companies have to raise the cost of their services.

More people are also getting into car accidents than they did in the past. Fatal car accidents increased by 6 percent from 2015 to 2016. This increase in car accidents has led to an increase in claims.

Twenty-two percent of households in America filed a claim in 2017. Only 20 percent of households filed a claim in 2014. Experts are predicting that 22.5 percent of people will file a claim by the year 2022.

Distracted driving is one of the things that has lead to the increase in accidents. Severe, unpredictable weather is another thing that has lead to an increase in accidents. The number of severe storms in the United States has increased over the past few years. The increase in car accidents has put a strain on car insurance companies.

Minimum $84,000 a Year Coffee Boys

A lawsuit filed in New York’s Manhattan Supreme Court has alleged that union coffee boys at the gigantic Hudson Yards development project earned between $42 and $70 per hour to deliver coffee to construction workers at the job site. The project might be as much as $100 million over budget, and the developer blames much of that overrun on the union umbrella group, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC).

One of the coffee boys is the brother of a union official. He is alleged to have been paid for 155 hours of work in the month of February of 2015, while 45 of those hours were categorized as overtime at a time and a half rate of $69.87 per hour including benefits. The lawsuit claims that the coffee boys charge construction workers for coffee and food which makes them vendors rather than construction workers.

Other allegedly improper practices included timesheet fraud. It was reported by the New York Post that one worker claimed to have earned more than $600,000 in wages and benefits by claiming to have worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a year. The lawsuit claims that other workers ordinarily inflate their hours by 10 to 20 percent.

Gary LaBarbera is the president of the BCTC, and documents filed with the court accuse him of “condoning if not actively participating in, numerous corrupt practices at the construction project.” Those practices allegedly violate a labor agreement that involves 35 different unions that work on the project. The BCTC and LaBarbera are claimed to have tortuously interfered with the project developer’s economic advantage by encouraging certain unions to not even work at the site.

The BCTC has yet to comment on the developer’s lawsuit. It claims that it has not yet seen it. Its spokesperson speculated that the lawsuit is in retaliation against a movement in New York City that is against open shops and development without union involvement.


Oregon Judge Refuses to Listen to Witness Statement

When Dana Parks walked into the courtroom to watch her assailant receive his sentence for his crime, she wasn’t expecting the judge to walk out of the courtroom. But that’s what Judge Kenneth Walker decided to do. Parks tried to participate in the sentencing by making a statement to the judge. However, the judge didn’t want to hear it.

Instead of listening patiently, Judge Walker interrupted Parks. Finally, he lost his cool and left the courtroom. Parks didn’t get to finish her statement. She is the victim of domestic assault.

Judge Walker allegedly stopped Parks three times during her statement. The Oregon Crime Victims Law Center says Walker’s actions were inappropriate, and they want a new hearing so that the victim can have her say. They say that the law requires the judge to listen to what the victim has to say.

During a sentencing hearing, both the state’s attorney and the defense have an opportunity to address the court. The state’s attorney doesn’t directly represent the victim, but the victim still has the right to make a speech to the court. Although the sentencing hearing was 27 minutes long, that included the entire hearing. The judge didn’t let the victim read the last paragraph of her speech.

The judge says that his actions were justified. The judge says that the victim wanted to talk about things that hadn’t been charged. He thought that it was unfair that the victim was talking about other incidents and events. At one point, he openly said, “I don’t want to hear this.”

In addition, the judge complained that the victim wanted to bring up social media posts about the crime. He eventually said, “I’ve heard enough.” The prosecutor asked for the victim to be allowed to finish her statement, but the judge said no.

Before the hearing, the parties had already agreed to a sentence of three years in prison. The judge honored that agreement and handed down a sentence of three years. The judge has denied interview requests.

Lawmakers throughout the United States have passed victim rights laws in order to ensure that victims have their say in the legal process. Victims usually aren’t legally trained. They don’t know what they can say, and what they can’t say.

The Parks case raises the question of what victims should be allowed to talk about during a sentencing. A victim often wants the judge to understand the context behind the event itself. However, because judges might view victims as unimportant to a sentencing hearing, victim rights laws exist to ensure victims can participate in the legal process.

Texas Governor Grants Clemency For Man Who Killed Family

Convicted murderer Bart Whitaker was only 40 minutes away from execution. That’s when Texas Governor Greg Abbott stepped in and canceled it. Instead, Whitaker will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The grant of clemency comes at the request of Whitaker’s father. The man is the only person who survived Whitaker’s planned attack on his family. Whitaker murdered both his mother and his brother in the attack. The attack came in the family home.

Whitaker killed his mother and brother in an effort to hide the secret that he wasn’t graduating from college as he claimed. Instead of going to school, he had been hanging around a house that his parents were paying for. He spent most of his days playing video games. He told his family that he was graduating from school, and the family went out to dinner to celebrate.

During dinner, Whitaker had a friend go and wait in the house. When the family arrived home, the friend attacked. To make it look like an accident, the friend shot Whitaker in the arm.

Whitaker’s denials unraveled when he traveled to Mexico under a false identity. There, he met a girlfriend. The girlfriend had a fight with her parents. To her amazement, Whitaker suggested that she murder her parents.

Despite Whitaker’s death sentence, his father begged anyone who would listen not to proceed with the execution. His father said that he still loved his son and would miss him if he were executed. His father said that he was a victim of the crime, too, and his words should have weight.

The state’s attorney wasn’t moved by the father’s pleas. He said that it was his job to represent the people of the State of Texas as a whole. He said that he doesn’t represent victims specifically.

Whitaker’s father took his case to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. After reviewing the entire case, they recommended granting clemency. The governor finally made his decision 40 minutes before the execution was to take place. Preparations had already begun for the execution.

Whitaker’s father says that Whitaker has made the most of his time in prison. He’s had 11 years to think about his crimes. He believes that his son has a mental illness. Whitaker has reportedly learned Spanish. He hopes that Whitaker continues to grow and learn while he’s in prison. Whitaker’s father says that forgiving his son has helped him find healing.


City Mayor Convicted For Abusing His Position

A Pennsylvania mayor has been convicted of 47 different charges that relate to abusing his public position. The federal conviction includes charges of bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and trying to extort campaign donations. Ed Pawlowski was the mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania. He used his position to try and get law firms to make donations to his campaigns. In exchange, he promised them legal business from the city. He also sought donations from tech, engineering and construction companies in exchange for promises of city tax dollars.

Becoming the mayor of Allentown wasn’t all that Pawlowski aspired to. Instead, he wanted to become the Governor of Pennsylvania or a Senator. He wanted to use his position of Allentown mayor in order to illegally get the money to fund his additional campaigns. Pawloski received acquittals for seven additional charges.

Pawlowski maintained his innocence of the charges throughout the trial. He said that prosecutors couldn’t prove that he gave those companies work because of contributions. He said that the case against him was weak and that the jury shouldn’t believe the witnesses.

In addition to the convictions for Pawlowski, an attorney was tried and convicted of related charges. The jury convicted Scott Allenson of conspiracy and bribery. They say that he tried to get money to the mayor in hopes of getting work for a law firm in exchange.

To secure the convictions, the prosecution team presented audio recordings. The recordings were made in secret. Pawlowski’s campaign manager and another person working for the campaign made the recordings. Authorities say that the recordings were telling and even bizarre at times. The parties involved talked about code words for bribes like the word meatballs.

The law firm that the attorney worked for tried to distance themselves from the lawyer’s actions. They said that he acted on his own to commit the offenses. They say that the law firm doesn’t do anything unethical.

One of Pawlowski’s acquittals was for allegations that he sought a bribe from an attorney. The attorney was allegedly a tax attorney who worked for the city to collect delinquent taxes. Another acquittal involved allegations that Pawlowski sought a bribe from another law firm’s partner.

The verdict forces Pawlowski out of his post as mayor. His ouster ends 12 years in office and ends his ambitions to become a governor or senator. He only began his latest term in January of 2018. In addition, he faces an upcoming sentencing hearing. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison.

Should Lawyers Be Allowed to Advertise With Fake Awards and Associations?

Is it okay for lawyers to mislead the public with fake bar associations and made up awards? Attorney Richard Breen is stirring the pot with the question as he has started a referral service from a bar association that doesn’t exist. Members of the public believe that they’re getting a reputable referral from a credible source while attorneys pay a subscription service, and they pay directly for each referral. Lawyers who want referrals pay $200 to sign up, and they pay $75 for each case that comes their way.

Credibility has long been a question mark of attorney marketing. Flashy lawyer awards are as much about advertising as they are about actually giving an award. Lawyers often pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of receiving an award. They receive a plaque to hang in their office and an image to use on their website. They can boast about their award online or in the local newspaper.

Advocacy watchdogs say that it’s false advertising. They say that members of the public don’t know that the awards come with a price. They say the awards might prevent people who need legal representation from finding the lawyer that’s best for them. Watchdogs say that the pay-per-play awards and referral systems amount to fake news.

The organizations that hand out the awards say that’s not the case. They say that they offer the awards to only a limited number of lawyers in their profession. They boast of a thorough vetting process that can sometimes include a phone conversation and ethical checks. Without these safeguards, they say, word would get out that their awards don’t mean anything.

It’s up to each state to create the rules for attorney advertising. Because lawyers are seen as having a great deal of power in society, how attorneys can approach potential clients has long been a matter of discussion and debate. State bar associations want to make sure that the public is protected from feeling harassed, threatened or misled.

One group criticizing paid attorney advertising is the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Attorney Advertising. They say that an attorney may not ethically be able to advertise themselves as the best or greatest even if they’ve won an award that says so. An attorney wanting to hold themselves out to the public as the greatest or the best should be able to point to verifiable data that backs up the claim. For now, it’s up to consumers to evaluate what they see and decide what attorney to hire.