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Androvett Blog

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 4:45:00 pm

The state of Texas has agreed to expand the types of documents immigrant parents can provide to obtain birth certificates for their children born in the United States, settling a lawsuit filed by immigrant families.

The lawsuit was filed after the state stopped accepting foreign identification cards provided by a consulate, leaving many undocumented parents with no way to obtain birth certificates for their American-born children. A birth certificate is essential for receiving the full rights of U.S. citizenship.

The settlement allows parents from Mexico to use a voter identification card obtained from Mexican consulates in the U.S., and parents from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras can use identification documents certified by their consulates.

Dallas-area immigration attorney John W. Lawit believes this groundbreaking decision represents the beginning of the end of the denial of birth certificates to the children of immigrants or sometimes even U.S. Citizens:

Texas is singularly the most difficult state in the U.S. to get birth certificates for U.S. citizen children born to undocumented immigrants. The issuance of Texas birth certificates seems like a never-ending battle. Up until now, each parent would have to file a lawsuit in federal court to get a hearing regarding the citizenship of the child. Sometimes the issue would be raised in the context of an application for a U.S. passport or through an application for the issuance of a birth certificate by the State of Texas.

These lawsuits are common in the counties that form our border with Mexico. The cost of such litigation is staggering for most; so many children never get the opportunity to demand their birthright citizenship.

With this settlement, Texas is taking the steps to give children a meaningful opportunity to obtain a birth certificate without having to resort to litigation.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 9:48:00 am

New details found in the leaked documents known as the Panama Papers indicate the magnitude of the use of shell companies in Africa to launder money, often illegally obtained from bribes, involving the sale of oil and other natural resources. “That should prompt any oil companies doing business in Africa to quickly take stock of their contracts on that continent,” says Thomas Fox, a Houston consultant and lawyer who advises companies on international business and anti-bribery laws.

“It is imperative that any multinational company operating in Africa immediately check its contracts and payments to determine if it has been doing business with one of the shell companies listed in this most recent report,” says Mr. Fox, who is editor of the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report. “If they fail to do that, those companies will be in a much worse position when they receive an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Justice or Securities and Exchange Commission.”

The latest revelations were published Monday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in collaboration with African news organizations. “These reports indicate that Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca established shell corporations for people in 44 of Africa’s 54 countries to assist in oil, gas and mining deals,” says Mr. Fox.

He notes that the first two waves of data published from the leaked documents came from politicians who used offshore tax havens to hide money and from U.S. citizens who used offshore tax havens to evade federal income taxes. “This third round of analysis puts the spotlight on those foreign officials who needed to launder money received from bribery and corruption.”

Mr. Fox, the former general counsel of an oilfield services company, has published several books on corporate compliance and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He is the founder of Advanced Compliance Solutions.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 10:51:00 am

A federal appeals court delivered a sharp blow against Texas’ voter ID law Wednesday, but the bottom line is that a newly shaped law by Election Day will be difficult to achieve, and short-term at best, says appellate attorney Chad Ruback.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sent the case back to the federal trial court in Corpus Christi, Texas, with instructions to devise an order that would implement portions of the law to remove its “discriminatory effect.”

“The 5th Circuit’s opinion orders the lower court not just to correct portions of the law identified as discriminatory, but to do so in a way that causes as little disruption as possible for the approaching election,” Mr. Ruback says. “That’s an enormous challenge. Both sides in the case are far apart in their positions, and there does not appear to be an easily identified middle ground.”

The appellate court went so far as to fault members of the Texas Legislature for being aware of the law’s negative impact on minorities but nevertheless passing the legislation without adopting “measures that might have lessened this impact.” 

It is far from certain that the trial court judge will actually have an opportunity to craft voter ID rules before the election, as the state of Texas could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and seek a stay. And even if the Supreme Court does not grant emergency relief, Texas will likely seek appellate review of any voter ID rule changes imposed by the trial court judge for November’s election. 

Whatever law the state has in place on Nov. 8, it likely will only last until a long-term solution can be devised—by the trial court judge or by the Texas Legislature—that will pass appellate scrutiny.

To interview Mr. Ruback, please contact Robert Tharp at robert@androvett.com or 800-559-4534.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 9:00:00 am

Dallas criminal defense lawyer Nicole Knox, on the proposal by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, to enhance penalties on attacks against police by classifying them as hate crimes: 

“I have represented a white police officer who was acquitted of civil rights charges, and I have represented African-American citizens who were arrested because of their skin color and acquitted at trial. Racial biases, conscious and unconscious, cloud our judgment and can cause us to question the integrity of an entire race. Anything that furthers the racial divide is a threat to sustaining justice and freedom in America, in Texas, and especially in Dallas. We must learn to focus on solutions that unite instead of divide. While Governor Abbott intends to protect law enforcement with this bill, it will effectively further the racial divide because it protects police officers without protecting citizens from the same hatred. For a solution that unites instead of divides, he should propose broader legislation that protects all citizens against hate crimes or propose no legislation at all.”

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 3:00:00 pm

A Dallas internet attorney says comedian Leslie Jones may be able to bring legal action against the people who orchestrated a hate-filled social media campaign against the star of the all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot.

“When it comes to the Internet, people think free speech allows them to do anything they want,” says attorney Kenton Hutcherson. “Just because you’re on the Internet doesn’t give you a license to be crude, sexist and racist.”

The target of any litigation would be Breitbart Technology Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who targeted Jones with a tweet that read, “EVERYONE GETS HATE MAIL FFS.”  Jones then suffered an onslaught of overtly racist and sexist messages from Yiannopoulos’ almost 400,000 Twitter followers aimed specifically at her and reportedly stopped using Twitter to escape the harassment. 

Mr. Hutcherson says Ms. Jones likely has a claim against Mr. Yiannopoulos and his followers for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. “The case is similar to one where someone orchestrates a campaign to have people call you hundreds of times a day,” says Hutcherson, “that is a clear intrusion upon your privacy.”

While the law often sets a higher bar for such cases where celebrities are involved,  Mr. Hutcherson says orchestrating a deliberate campaign to harass Ms. Jones may be considered over the legal line.

In addition, Mr. Hutcherson says Ms. Jones can claim actual economic damages because she is a movie star, and being unable to use social media detracts from her ability to market herself and create more business opportunities.

He says there also could be punitive damages because everything that happened was willful.

“I think you could argue that Yiannopoulos acted deliberately, knowing his many followers would harass Ms. Jones.”

To speak with Kenton Hutcherson, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 7:00:00 am

Can a lawyer search the social media accounts of prospective jurors before a trial?

The American Bar Association says such practices are ethical, but some courts have said no. Late last week a judge in a California federal case pitting Oracle against Google found a possible middle ground. The judge ruled that attorneys could search social media pages, but only after advance notice, offering potential jurors a chance to change their online privacy settings.

But attorney Britta Stanton at the Dallas law firm of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst notes that courts may or may not ask permission or give you a chance to change your privacy settings before attorneys look at them. “The bottom line is, just as most anyone can look at what you post publicly on social media, when you’re called to report for jury duty the lawyers asking you questions might be researching your online persona,” she says. “If you don’t like it you should change your privacy settings before showing up at the courthouse, even if just temporarily.”

In 2014, the ABA said that reviewing a juror’s social media is just as acceptable as driving down the street where the person lives. Ms. Stanton notes that most groups that have looked into the issue agree that a lawyer should not “friend” you to find out more information. But she says lawyers also know that reviewing a juror’s social media habits can reveal inconsistencies in testimony or even a violation of court rules against discussing a case online, which can lead to a mistrial or a conviction being overturned.

To interview Ms. Stanton on these and other jury issues, please contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

 

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 10:23:00 am

The international furor over the online game Pokémon Go has sent countless children and adults scurrying through neighborhoods, parks and unfamiliar areas in pursuit of virtual game characters found only online. While Pokémon Go is being credited for encouraging more public conversation and promoting regular physical exercise, Dallas attorney Rogge Dunn says there are many ways that a Pokémon pursuit can land a player at the courthouse or, worse, the jailhouse. Although Pokémon Go manufacturer Nintendo requires players to accept terms of service that prevent them from taking the company to court unless they send an opt-out notice, he says there are no such free passes for those who play the game.

“While Pokémon Go may blur the line between fantasy and reality, there are real legal consequences if you step outside the law as a player,” Mr. Dunn says. “If you park your car in the street, expect a parking ticket. If you’re trespassing on someone’s property, expect to get arrested. If you cause a wreck while speeding toward a popular Pokémon location, you better be prepared for jail.”

An adjunct professor in Southern Methodist University’s MBA program, Mr. Dunn notes one case from his classroom where a radio station promotion was blamed for causing a serious car crash after urging listeners to show up at a particular location. The same scenario played out in Fort Worth roughly 20 years ago when a disc jockey at a country radio station claimed he’d used $5 and $10 bills as bookmarks in the fiction section at the public library. News reports detailed how people overran the library in search of the money, damaging thousands of books in the process.

“A lot of adults are being very smart about playing Pokémon Go with their children so they can make sure everyone is safe. But there are just as many instances where kids and grown-ups alike are going into unsafe areas or entering strangers’ properties,” says Mr. Dunn. “Particularly in states like ours where a lot of people have guns in their homes, I fear that a Pokémon Go player may end up being shot or killed before a homeowner realizes that they’re simply playing a video game. If that happens, you can expect both our criminal courts and civil courts will get involved.”

To interview Mr. Dunn, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 2:47:00 pm

Christopher Correa, the former scouting director for the St. Louis Cardinals, was sentenced in federal court this afternoon to 46 months in prison for hacking into the computer system of the Houston Astros.

 

"The sentence reflects that the court felt this was a serious offense against society, not just the Astros,” said former Houston federal prosecutor Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates. “The stiff sentence was anticipated because it sends a strong signal to others.”

 

Mr. Correa pleaded guilty to gaining unauthorized access to the Astros' computer database. In court he read a letter apologizing for what he had done. 

 

The Houston Chronicle wrote that federal prosecutors set the amount of damages at $1.7 million. The paper reported that Mr. Correa said during his January guilty plea hearing that “he suspected the Astros were in possession of Cardinals proprietary information and believes he found such information in the Astros' system. The Astros subsequently refuted that allegation.”

 

For more information please contact Mary Flood at 713-383-0090 or mary@androvett.com

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 1:05:00 pm

On Thursday, July 7, a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas turned deadly when a gunman targeted police officers, killing five and wounding several others. The Dallas Police Department acted quickly to identify and corner the suspect, Micah Johnson, in a parking garage. They attempted to negotiate with Johnson, who said his intentions were to kill white people and police officers.

When negotiations soured, Dallas Police Chief David Brown noted in a statement that he saw no other option that would minimize exposure of additional officers to grave danger, and he chose to use a mechanical robot bomb to kill Johnson.

Attorney Philip Hilder, founder of Hilder & Associates and former federal prosecutor, and was appointed by former Houston Mayor Parker to the Houston Independent Police Oversight Board, shares his thoughts on the legality of this new method of killing suspects using police robot bombs:

“Using weaponized explosive robots by law enforcement presents new questions of whether it is appropriate to use, and if so, at what point. Traditional analysis that lethal force is justified where there is an imminent threat to the officers or others may be the proper analysis. However, in Dallas, was it justified to use deadly force where a gunman is surrounded, in dialogue with authorities, holding no hostages?  Clear rules of engagement to utilize this new policing technology must be established to prevent a slippery slope of killing citizens without the benefit of due process.”   

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 12:15:00 pm

A federal judge in Dallas yesterday cleared the way for a September trial in the ongoing multidistrict litigation against DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), over various medical problems surrounding the company’s Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants.

Judge Ed Kinkeade of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas is presiding over the many hip implant lawsuits filed by patients from across the U.S. The first trial in the multidistrict litigation ended in 2014 with a verdict in favor of DePuy, but noted attorney Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm and other lawyers won a $500 million verdict against the company in March for five hip implant victims. DePuy responded by appealing the verdict and requesting that the next trial be postponed.

“This ruling ensures that our clients will get their day in court despite the defendants’ attempt to delay justice,” Mr. Lanier says. “We look forward to proving once again that DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants don’t work and instead cause innocent patients to experience horrible medical problems that often take years to correct.”

DePuy has never recalled the Pinnacle hip implants that will be the focus of the upcoming trial, although the company did recall other metal-on-metal hip implants that were sold under the ASR brand name. Approximately 35,000 patients received the now-recalled ASR devices, which required more than 10 percent of patients to have painful “revision surgery.”

For more information, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 11:44:00 am

Two of Dallas’ top boutique law firms are merging to better serve their clients in high-stakes business disputes, employment law litigation and counseling, business restructuring and general counsel services. The July 1 launch of Loewinsohn Flegle Deary Simon LLP will result in a dynamic new platform for sophisticated legal consumers, replacing the law firms Loewinsohn Flegle Deary LLP and Simon, Ray & Winikka LLP.

“Our lawyers are at the top of their game, representing clients in crucial areas impacting their businesses,” says noted trial attorney and name partner Alan S. Loewinsohn. “We are now in a better position to solve a broader range of our clients’ complicated business problems and disputes. Whether you are a plaintiff or defendant, we can continue to handle any type of state or federal dispute in court proceedings or arbitrations.”

Fellow accomplished trial and bankruptcy attorney and name partner Craig F. Simon says the merger creates a level of expertise uncommon at many boutique firms.

“There are very few, if any, firms of our size that can provide the broad and deep knowledge and track record in the courtroom and through negotiation that we bring to the table,” says Mr. Simon. “From business litigation to employment law to bankruptcy and business restructuring, our team is home to attorneys who are consistently ranked by their peers among the best in the state and the entire nation.”

Loewinsohn Flegle Deary Simon’s clients include a variety of companies, partnerships, limited liability companies, and high net worth individuals, including Lincoln Property Co., Toni&Guy USA LLC, Rosewood Property Co., Kaiser Aluminum and Sovereign Bank.

All the name partners from both firms will be founding principals of Loewinsohn Flegle Deary Simon, including Mr. Loewinsohn, Mr. Simon, Jim L. Flegle, David R. Deary, Matthew W. Ray and Daniel P. Winikka. All the attorneys from Loewinsohn Flegle Deary and two additional attorneys from Simon, Ray & Winikka are joining the new firm, including partner Zoltan A. Papp, who is experienced in every aspect of the general counsel role based on his many years of work as general counsel for a global technology company. He will represent clients while working for the new firm in Dallas and Austin.

The new firm’s offices are located at 12377 Merit Drive, Suite 900, Dallas 75251.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.