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and Jobs Act that provided permanent tax breaks to corporations, temporarily cut the tax rates for individuals, and repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.[i] There is no dispute that the new tax law will impact all Americans.[ii] With tax season quickly approaching,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.”

A Closer Look at Obamacare: Is it Constitutional or Just a Game of Jenga?

Photo Credit: https://www.louisianalawblog.com/business-and-corporate/louisiana-employers-beware-your-reimbursement-plan-may-violate-affordable-care-act-market-reforms/

By: Nicki Lawsen, Business Committee Chair, American Journal of Trial Advocacy 

On Friday, December 14, 2018, United States District Judge Reed O’Connor deemed the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional, ruling that the individual mandate should no longer be classified as a tax, which in turn causes the Act to be an impermissible exercise of congressional authority.[1] In addition, Judge O’Connor held that the individual mandate was not able to be detached from the rest of the Act, thus rendering the entire Act unconstitutional.[2] Consequently, millions of Americans are faced with the question of “what now?”[3] Continue reading “A Closer Look at Obamacare: Is it Constitutional or Just a Game of Jenga?”

The June 1, 2018 Amendment to Alabama’s Child Support Laws

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Written by: Caleb Faulkner

Editor in Chief, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

On June 1, 2018, an amendment was added to Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration, pertaining to the obligated payments of child support.[1] The added amendment became subdivision (9) (hereinafter “amendment”) of Rule 32’s definitions section, which is structured as subsection (B) of Rule 32.[2] The former subdivision (9), “Split Custody,” is now subdivision (10) of the definition section of Rule 32.[3] Subsection (i) of the amendment states that third-party payments, received by a child due to the actions or benefits of the parent responsible for child support payments, can be deducted from the amount owed by the obligor, while subsection (ii) lists payments that are not eligible for such deductions.[4] Continue reading “The June 1, 2018 Amendment to Alabama’s Child Support Laws”

Carpenter v. United States: Keeping Up With Technology

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Written By: Jonathan Brown

Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

In a nation where there are more cell phone service accounts than people[1], Americans are becoming more attached to their cell phones than ever. People are no longer just carrying their phones everywhere, they are actively using them throughout the day. Whether on social media or other ‘apps,’ a report in 2017 stated that Americans are spending up to five hours per day on their cell phones.[2] Technology is constantly evolving, and the courts are attempting to keep up. Continue reading “Carpenter v. United States: Keeping Up With Technology”

ABA Makes Significant Changes to the Model Rules Governing Attorney Solicitation and Advertising

Photo Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi, The National Law Journal, https://www.law.com/id=1202749202171/Divided-ABA-Adopts-Resolution-on-Nonlawyer-Legal-Services/ (last visited Sept. 5, 2018).

By: Allie Segrest

Associate Editor, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

Introduction

“Another great victory in court today! My client is delighted. Who wants to be next?”[1] This post on a social media site is considered an attorney advertisement, and state bar associations have found this post to be in violation of their Rules of Professional Responsibility.[2] Mere words and sentences such as “victory” and “who wants to be next” are considered communications by an attorney as to his or her professional services, otherwise known as an advertisement, which subjects the entire post to scrutiny under the numerous professional rules of attorney advertising promulgated by each state.[3] Continue reading “ABA Makes Significant Changes to the Model Rules Governing Attorney Solicitation and Advertising”

Does Title VII Ban Transgender Bias?

Photo Credit: http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/title-vii/

By: Mary Margaret Clark

Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

Introduction

In 1964, Congress began making changes to federal law to reflect the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.[1]  Specifically, Congress enacted Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VII), which paved the way for federal employment discrimination law.[2]   Title VII prohibits employers of at least 15 employees from discriminating against employees or applicants upon the basis of the employee’s race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.[3] Over the years, courts have increasingly accepted the notion that Title VII bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.[4]  However, courts are reluctant to uniformly extend Title VII to cover discrimination based on gender identity.[5] Continue reading “Does Title VII Ban Transgender Bias?”

Sunlight as the Best Disinfectant: SCOTUS Sheds Light on “Dark Money”

Photograph of Cash, Daniel I. Weiner, Why You Should Care About Dark Money in Politics, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE, (May 1, 2014) https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/why-you-should-care-about-dark-money-politics.

By: Julianne Zilahy

Research and Writing Editor, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”[1]

On September 18, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated a stay[2] placed on the holding of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Federal Election Commission.[3] In doing so, the Supreme Court enforced a ruling requiring political active 501(c)(4) organizations to disclose the identities of many financial donors that contribute money for advertising for or against candidates for federal office.[4] Continue reading “Sunlight as the Best Disinfectant: SCOTUS Sheds Light on “Dark Money””

Is Uber’s Arbitration Clause Enforceable?

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By: Reynolds Pittman

Member, American Journal of Trial Advocacy

Style over utility has Uber in an arbitration conundrum. The design choice of a sleek and inconspicuous gray box for the terms of service in their downloadable app might mean facing a potential class action in court, rather than moving to arbitration. While it is understandable in the modern age that businesses want to streamline their interaction with consumers, app-based businesses potentially run the risk of class action litigation when their arbitration clauses are not “reasonably communicated” to the consumer.[1] While there is a strong presumption in favor of enforcing arbitration clauses, the app design arguably did not provide any notice says the First Circuit. Continue reading “Is Uber’s Arbitration Clause Enforceable?”