Attorney Advertising: You Get a Multi-Million Dollar Settlement! You Get One, Too!

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By:  Sara Rogan
Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

In the over 40 years since the seminal case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona[1] in 1977, attorney advertising has been and continues to be revolutionized. What was once illegal is now prolific. It was estimated by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group that in 2016 alone, attorneys and firms spent almost $771 million on televised advertisements.[2] One firm is estimated to spend roughly $30 million annually on advertising.[3] The Institute for Legal Reform notes that “legal advertising not only appears to be recession-proof, but also politics-proof,” surviving and thriving in a time when other advertisement industries struggle.[4] A well-known Alabama attorney has at least 2,000 billboards employed for his advertisements throughout the state and is becoming a familiar face throughout the southeast.[5] Attorney advertisements take the form of billboards, commercials, displays on websites, and search engine prompts – not to mention all the paraphernalia that contains firm names and logos such as cups, koozies, pens, and notepads. The path is already being paved for attorneys to collect numbers from police reports to solicit their services to people involved in an incident.[6] Continue reading “Attorney Advertising: You Get a Multi-Million Dollar Settlement! You Get One, Too!”

Opportunity Hidden in the New Tax Law

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By: Alex Townsley

Benjamin Franklin has been credited with once saying, “[I]n this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”[1] Americans are reminded of the truth of the latter certainty every year during tax season, but this year, along with the usual pains of preparing one’s taxes, taxpayers are grappling with understanding the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[2] However, there may be some unexpected relief in the form of a new program called “[O]pportunity [Z]one[s].”[3] Continue reading “Opportunity Hidden in the New Tax Law”

Kavanaugh’s First Opinion: Further Solidifying the Federal Arbitration Act

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By: Nick Jackson
Associate Editor, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

Introduction

In January 2019, Brett Kavanaugh, a newly confirmed justice on the Supreme Court of the United States, delivered his first opinion, one that was unanimously confirmed by the Court.[1] In Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer and White Sales, Inc.,[2] the Court overturned the Fifth Circuit’s interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act, stating “arbitration is a matter of contract, and courts must enforce arbitration contracts according to their terms.”[3] In recent years, arbitration agreements have become a controversial aspect of the American legal system.[4] Accordingly, many individuals have brought forth challenges to contest unfavorable arbitration results.[5] One of the most criticized aspects of arbitration deals with forced arbitration agreements.[6] However, the controversial nature of arbitration agreements has failed to limit their use in industries where the use of arbitration is increasing such as the credit card, banking, insurance, and mobile phones services industries.[7] 

Continue reading “Kavanaugh’s First Opinion: Further Solidifying the Federal Arbitration Act”

302 Pages of Hope

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” The Shawshank Redemption (Castle Rock Entertainment 1994).

Senior Research and Writing Editor: Amanda L. B. Wineman

302 pages. 302 pages is what it took District Court Judge Myron Thompson to fully explain his ruling in Braggs v. Dunn.[1] He wrote 302 pages detailing the inadequacies and failures of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) in providing mental health care to its prisoners.[2] In a multi-faceted set of cases, the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with attorneys from other Alabama firms, brought suit on behalf of a class of prisoners from fifteen ADOC facilities against ADOC.[3] The first phase involved American Disability Act (ADA) claims that ADOC discriminated on the basis of physical disabilities and that they failed to make accommodations for disabilities.[4] Continue reading “302 Pages of Hope”

Could Rondini Spark Reform for Rape Laws?

By Mallory Bullard, Senior Research and Writing Editor

Ask yourself, “What do rape cases have in common?” Many responses might be racing through your mind. You may be thinking of words such as: victim, consent, or maybe even force. While those words are all associated with rape cases, the uniqueness of the crime is a commonality that is often overlooked. Rape is distinguishable because “[n]o other violent crime is so fraught with controversy, so enmeshed in dispute and in the politics of gender and sexuality.”[i] Continue reading “Could Rondini Spark Reform for Rape Laws?”

Improper Grammar and Our Modern-Day Vernacular Collide Raising Questions About Whether One Louisiana Man’s Fifth Amendment Rights Were Violated

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By: Holly Howell

Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

“If y’all, this is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ‘cause this is not what’s up.”[1]  This request, made by then-22-year-old Warren Demesme, may seem straightforward on its face, but it has proved controversial, requiring Louisiana law enforcement and, later, the Louisiana Supreme Court to analyze Demesme’s vernacular, what he was actually asking for, and whether or not his Constitutional rights were violated.  The Court’s decision may now have serious implications—both for Demesme, who is potentially facing time in prison, as well as for those accused and interrogated in the future. Continue reading “Improper Grammar and Our Modern-Day Vernacular Collide Raising Questions About Whether One Louisiana Man’s Fifth Amendment Rights Were Violated”

When Involuntary Becomes Voluntary: The Uncertainty of Protection Against Involuntary Confessions

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Written by: Alexandria Heard

Associate Student Materials Editor, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

            The story behind Dassey v. Dittmann is no secret to the American people. In the widely popular Netflix series, Making a Murderer, the producers delve into the life of Brendan Dassey and the untimely murder of Teresa Halbach. The following facts are as depicted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit after a long, arduous procedural history in relation to Petitioner Dassey’s videotaped confession to participating in the rape, murder, and mutilation of Halbach.[1] Continue reading “When Involuntary Becomes Voluntary: The Uncertainty of Protection Against Involuntary Confessions”

The Death Penalty and the Terminally Ill – What Happens After a Botched Execution?

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By: Suzanne Norman

Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy  

On February 22, 2018, following 31 years of legal battles, Lee Doyle Hamm was sentenced to death by a Cullman County jury.[1] The State of Alabama attempted to administer its combination of lethal drugs to Hamm, but doctors were unable to successfully locate a vein to insert the needle before the attempt was called off.[2] After the United States Supreme Court lifted a temporary stay that allowed for the execution of Hamm, the people tasked with administering the drugs to Hamm attempted at least 11 times to locate a vein that would allow the drugs to be introduced to Hamm’s system, leaving Hamm bruised and bloody.[3] Continue reading “The Death Penalty and the Terminally Ill – What Happens After a Botched Execution?”

How Will the New Tax Law Affect Couples Progressing Through a Divorce?

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By: Haleigh Chastain

Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that provided permanent tax breaks to corporations, temporarily cut the tax rates for individuals, and repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.[i] There is no dispute that the new tax law will impact all Americans.[ii] With tax season quickly approaching, the question facing all tax filers is whether the new law will affect them positively or negatively. The news media has focused on corporate taxes and individual rate cuts, but one of the biggest changes brought about during this presidency involves how a spouse, responsible for paying alimony, and a spouse who receives alimony, will file his or her taxes. Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is awarded when one spouse of a divorcing couple, earns more than the other.[iii] The payments are typically awarded as a lump sum and paid over a period of several years.[iv] The payments are to help offset the cost of the lower-earning spouse to comfortably live on their own.[v] Continue reading “How Will the New Tax Law Affect Couples Progressing Through a Divorce?”

11 U.S.C. § 546(e) – Can You Really Avoid That Transfer? – How a Fight Between Two “Racinos” Lead to SOME Clarity Within the Bankruptcy Code.

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Written by: Austin Boyd

Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

Introduction:

When a debtor is in bankruptcy, a trustee or other representative is placed in charge of the debtor’s estate. One of the most fundamental purposes of the bankruptcy code is “equality of distribution among the debtor’s creditors by returning to the estate assets which were preferentially, fraudulently, or otherwise improperly transferred.”[1] This purpose is achieved by allowing the trustee to avoid certain transfers.[2] This means that if the debtor made certain transfers of assets before a bankruptcy action is commenced, the trustee can make the third-party to whom the debtor transferred the assets, return those assets to the bankruptcy estate in order to achieve equality among the distribution of assets to the debtor’s creditors.[3] This is known as the avoidance powers.[4] Continue reading “11 U.S.C. § 546(e) – Can You Really Avoid That Transfer? – How a Fight Between Two “Racinos” Lead to SOME Clarity Within the Bankruptcy Code.”