Monthly Archives: June 2013

U.S. Supreme court rules on DUI law !

 

U.S. Supreme Court rules against warrantless DUI blood draws

A new law handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court states that police must obtain a warrant before drawing blood from a suspect in a driving under the influence (DUI) case, effective immediately. The new law will affect many states, including California, where law enforcement previously did not require a warrant to draw blood in drunk-driving cases.

The 8-1 Supreme Court decision, with Justice Clarence Thomas the lone dissenter, cited a violation of the Fourth Amendment as the major factor in the ruling. In the landmark case of Missouri v. McNeely, Tyler McNeely was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. He refused to take a breathalyzer and was taken to a hospital, where police ordered his blood drawn without seeking a warrant. The state argued that because alcohol was dissipating in his bloodstream, valuable evidence was being lost; therefore, a warrant was not needed.

The Supreme Court disagreed, saying that in this case, and in most cases, there is ample time to request and receive a warrant. Writing for the majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “In those drunk driving investigations where police officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so.”  The court does allow a non-consensual blood draw if there are “exigent” circumstances, which must later be justified in court.

A 1966 Supreme Court decision, Schmerber v. California, also ruled that a person’s blood is protected under the Fourth Amendment. But the ruling contained a clause that if there were exigent circumstances in a drunk driving case, blood could be drawn without a warrant. Many states went on to interpret the dissipation of alcohol in the blood stream as an exigent circumstance, and have been bypassing the warrant process for the past 47 years.

The Fourth Amendment protects the right of the people to be secure in their person against unreasonable searches and seizure, and that “no warrants shall issue, except under probable cause.” The high court’s guiding standard has long been “reasonableness” and the justices here again said the warrant requirement can be suspended under exigent circumstances, such as the risk of endangering lives or destruction of evidence. But the court has also said state intrusions into one’s own body generally require prior review and approval by a judge.

But the overall people should know that more than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol related motor vehicle incidents last year. That is one death every 51 minutes, and another 500,000 people on average are injured annually in alcohol related crashes.  DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

By: Lawrence Levy, ESQ. Senior Counsel

World Rankings of countries in Education.

 

 

WORLD RANKINGS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRIES ON EDUCATION

According to the OECD global educational rankings, the United States places 17th in the developed world.  The improvements U.S. students posted in recent years are mediocre by world standards, according to the report. Although the U.S. is not one of the nine countries that lost academic ground for the 14-year period between 1995 and 2009, more countries were improving at a rate significantly faster than that of the U.S. Researchers looked at data for 49 countries.

The study’s findings resonate years of rankings that show foreign students outpacing American students academically. In the same test, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading.  In a previous 2009 study found that U.S. students consistently ranked 25th out of 34 countries in math, and science.  Only 6 percent of U.S. students performed at the advanced level on an international exam administered in 56 countries.

Top 5 countries in education are: OECD Rankings

1. China

2. Korea

3. Finland

4. Singapore

5. Canada

America cannot complete unless there are signaficant reforms in our educational system. However, with the political climate in this country that would be highly unlikely.

 

 

Why You Need A Lawyer !

 

Why You Need A Lawyer !

Not all legal matters necessitate the use of an attorney. For example a speeding ticket and going to small claims court.  However, in so many other situations involving a legal dispute, challenge, criminal, and civil disagreements you do not want to take the risk of handling it alone without the advice of an experienced lawyer who can help you.  In fact, while good legal representation may not be cheap, it can help get you out of a number of sticky situations, or help you prevail; such as a criminal violations, personal injuries, not to mention the potential alternatives for not using an attorney ; including broken agreements, lost claims, or worse, jail time.

While each person’s legal situation is different, there are times when you really should hire a lawyer.

1. The law is Complex.  Even experienced lawyers typically do not represent themselves in court. A solid case can quickly unravel without the help of a trained and emotionally detached attorney. Similarly, failing to hire a lawyer when starting a business, reviewing a contract or in a personal injury situation, embarking on other endeavors with potential legal ramifications can result in otherwise avoidable pitfalls.

2. Not having a lawyer may actually cost you more. What is at stake? A criminal case may determine whether or not you spend time behind bars, while a civil case could hurt you financially. Besides, many civil attorneys don’t collect a dime unless they win your case. Also, you may be able to claim legal fees as a plaintiff in a civil case, so hiring a lawyer can actually save or make you money.

3. Lawyers know how to challenge evidence. You may not even know that a key piece of evidence against you was improperly obtained or that the testimony of a witness contradicts an earlier statement. And did the crime lab properly handle the evidence every step of the way? Your attorney will find out.

4. Attorneys understand how to properly file court documents and handle other legal procedures. If you’re not an attorney, you may struggle with the deadlines and protocol for properly filling out and filing certain legal documents. One late or incorrect filing could derail your case, delay a given legal procedure or worse – have the case thrown out altogether (and not in your favor).

5. Because you don’t know any expert witnesses or private detectives. Attorneys depend on an extended network of professionals to help their clients’ cases. Most non-attorneys do not personally know the types of professionals who can help with discovery or challenge evidence or testimony by the opposing party.

6. You’re not sure how to plead — or what a ‘pleading’ is? Pleading guilty is not the only choice, even if there is evidence pointing directly at you. An attorney who understands the law will be best situated to explain your options and can help you avoid potentially severe penalties even before a criminal trial begins.

7. Because it is probably better to avoid problems in the first place rather than try to fix them once they arise. You may have heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” Well, hiring a lawyer in many instances will help you avoid potential legal headaches down the road. Do you really understand the fine print of that contract you are signing?  Do you know what your rights are in a personal injury matter? A lawyer will.

8. A good lawyer can strike up a good settlement offer or plea bargain, if necessary. An experienced lawyer has handled cases similar to yours, and can help you resolve it. Sometimes a settlement is the best choice, while other times it makes more sense to see your case through to trial. An attorney also can help negotiate a fair settlement with the opposing party.

9. The other party has legal representation. Non-attorneys are generally at a disadvantage when squaring off against opposing counsel or doing business with another party that has legal counsel. As explained above, the law is complicated and an attorney representing your adversary (or even a non-adversarial party entering into a legal agreement with you) will take advantage of this inequity.

10. Lawyers often provide a free initial consultation. Since many attorneys will meet with you for free during a face to face consultation, there is really no harm in talking with one. Not only will a free consultation give you an idea of the type of case you have, it will help you decide whether you actually need to hire a lawyer.

Lawrence Levy, ESQ. Senior Counsel