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Androvett Blog

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 10:01:00 am

Plano attorney Jason Van Dyke was all set to begin a new chapter of his legal career as an assistant district attorney in Victoria County. So he was startled to receive notice that the District Attorney’s office had rescinded its job offer with no explanation. Mr. Van Dyke speculates the reversal could be related to media coverage of a Twitter exchange he had involving a case he was working on in 2014. He has since filed suit seeking answers from Victoria County, and Dallas labor and employment attorney Leiza Dolghih of Godwin Bowman & Martinez says this is a cautionary tale for both employers and job-seekers.

“Many employers these days Google prospective hires and look them up on social media for any evidence of red flags that indicate that the applicant may be violent, unethical, unstable or simply have bad judgment. These behind-the-scenes, informal background checks often result in rejection, or even withdrawal, of a job offer,” she says.

While a Texas employer may reject a prospective candidate for a myriad of reasons, including social media activity, a prospective employee cannot be rejected on the basis of race, gender, religion, age or other protective categories – information that can often be gleaned from social media. If a candidate can show that a job rejection was based on information protected under employment law, there could be basis for a claim of discrimination.

“However, in this case, if the employer discovered what they considered unsavory comments, or possible evidence of poor judgment or lack of self-control, after offering Mr. Van Dyke a job, the withdrawal of that offer based on the newly discovered information, would be acceptable,” says Ms. Dolghih. “While everyone has the right to speak their mind freely, that speech may result in rather harsh consequences in terms of employment.”

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

by Anrovett Legal Media & Marketing at 8:01:00 am

The bitter child custody trial pitting high-profile internet radio host Alex Jones against his ex-wife has begun in an Austin courtroom. Mr. Jones’ attorneys are arguing that the angry, volatile personality evident from his Infowars website and radio show is “performance art” and doesn’t reflect his fitness as a parent.

“It’s going to be a fascinating tightrope for him to walk because the jury will have to decide who is the real Alex Jones,” says Austin-based Weisbart Springer Hayes attorney Geoff Weisbart, who is closely following the case. “He may be in a bit of a lose-lose situation because, if successful at trial, that defense could ultimately damage his credibility with his core audience. That’s obviously a risk he’s willing to take.”

Mr. Weisbart also notes the court of Judge Orlinda Naranjo is one of the few in the state that allows jurors to submit questions to the witnesses as a part of their testimony. “While the judge has made it clear that the focus is going to be on the best interests of the three children involved, it will be fascinating to see what questions the members of the jury have for Mr. Jones.”

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 2:54:00 pm

Trial lawyer Mark Lanier was not looking for new cases when two Idaho attorneys called him earlier this year with an appeal to what he described as his “core sense of right and wrong.” The always-busy Houston lawyer recently earned a $1 billion  product liability verdict against J&J and is gearing up for numerous other trials. But when he heard more about the case involving Antwon McDaniel, a developmentally disabled teen who was bullied and raped at a rural Idaho high school, the decision to join the legal team was an easy one.

“It’s outrageous. It’s horrible,” Mr. Lanier told the Magic Valley Times-News. “As a lawyer, if I can help in a case like this and I don’t, they ought to take away my bar card.”

The federal lawsuit, filed last year, claims that the individually named school board trustees, administrators, teachers and coaches of the Dietrich School District chose to ignore the ongoing physical and mental abuse being suffered by Antwon McDaniel, effectively depriving him of his constitutional rights. The racially motivated violence inflicted on the now 19-year-old Mr. McDaniel, who is black, included anal rape with a coat hanger by several white football teammates in 2015. Criminal cases stemming from the locker room attack have all been resolved, but the civil lawsuit seeking $10 million is ongoing, with the next hearing set for May 9. Trial dates have not yet been scheduled.

Mr. Lanier described his decision to join the lawsuit in an interview with the Times-News:

“My goal is to make sure no student in Idaho or anywhere else has this problem again,” [Mr. Lanier] said. “We need to do something to protect our children who don’t fit in, aren’t the right color, aren’t the right religion and don’t fit that model profile. There’s a chance to do something here.”

There were three main motivating factors, Mr. Lanier said. The need for the school district to be responsible; the “egregiousness of it all”; and because he “cares deeply about racial issues.”

“America is at a place where we have to find a way to be accepting of people of different race, religion, gender, or even political affiliation,” Mr. Lanier said.

 

For more information or to set up an interview with Mark Lanier, contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or Robert@androvett.com.  

by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing at 1:25:00 pm

One day after a Harris County law enforcement officer was ambushed and shot to death in a Houston suburb, the county’s former district attorney was placed under armed guard. The slain peace officer, Clint Greenwood, had told county officials a week earlier that he felt threatened by a man he had targeted in a corruption investigation while working in the DA’s office. Now officials are concerned about the safety of former DA Devon Anderson, who previously headed the Harris County public integrity unit.

Former U.S. prosecutor Philip Hilder, now a white-collar defense lawyer at Hilder & Associates, P.C., offered this perspective:

“In the context of the heavy caseloads and often dangerous people that prosecutors handle, threats to these public servants are relatively rare. But when they do occur, they are treated with the utmost seriousness. Usually, the full weight of law enforcement ensures an aggressive investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. There is no other option. Allowing prosecutors and judges to be intimidated would be the first step to the collapse of our legal system.”

For more information, contact Kit Frieden at 713-383-0090 or kit@androvett.com.