November 25, 2013 by Dave Moore at 3:50:00 pm
The forced relocation of Native American tribes from their ancestral homes in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee in the 1830s is considered by many to be among the most shameful chapters in American history. Suffering from exposure, disease and starvation, thousands died along the “Trail of Tears” en route to present-day Oklahoma.
Given the tragic connection, the run-through banner the cheerleaders from Alabama’s McAdory High School displayed at a recent football playoff game was especially troubling. Facing the Pinson Valley Indians, the sign’s message was “Hey Indians, Get Ready to Leave in a Trail of Tears.”
The principal at McAdory issued an immediate apology, claiming that the squad’s sponsor who is tasked with reviewing banner content was out on maternity leave and that role unintentionally had gone unfilled.
Dallas attorney Tom Brandt of Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C. cites the McAdory controversy as a clear example of why school districts need to have the authority to oversee what signs are displayed at school-sponsored events. Brandt represents Kountze ISD in ongoing litigation involving the right of approval for that district's banners after its cheerleaders began using Christian themes for their spirit signs.
"If a district loses the right to review and approve school-sponsored messaging, it opens the door to situations such as what happened in McAdory," he says. "In Alabama, the district has acknowledged that the absence of adequate district oversight helped create a situation where a glaringly offensive message was brought to the football field."
November 15, 2013 by Dave Moore at 2:00:00 pm
Scientists, social scientists and journalists have used mapping for decades in attempts to make sense of investigative data. Perhaps most famously, physician John Snow used the technique in the 1850s to locate the source of a cholera epidemic in London.
Most recently and locally, NBC5 investigative reporter Scott Friedman used TxDOT data to map drunken driving clusters in North Texas. His data showed a concentration of drunken-driving accidents near the Dallas Cowboys’ and the Texas Rangers stadiums in Arlington.
While Friedman’s investigation proved inconclusive as to locating the businesses that might be involved in creating the drunken-driving cluster, Fort Worth personal injury attorney Steven C. Laird asks the pivotal question of the story: "Is this a question that really doesn't want to be asked because some people may be afraid of the answer?"
Having represented victims of drunken driving accidents in the past, and having a thorough knowledge of Texas' dram shop laws, Mr. Laird has demonstrated in court that the State of Texas makes establishments legally liable for over-serving patrons. In one DUI case, he helped obtain a $1 million judgment for the family of a drunken driving victim (click http://bit.ly/17sIiXk for more details).
While what’s driving the DUI crash “hot spots” near the stadiums in Arlington remains a mystery, it’s good to know that courts still hold businesses accountable for over-serving patrons.
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