Antonin Scalia, arguably the bane of many a left leaning jurist, was also one of the most influential legal scholars in our country's history.
He had a very strong voice on the Court, and his death will cause immediate society-changing effects. And what happens until we have another Justice? Although I hope that the process to appoint a successor goes smoothly, both the recent actions and tenor of the Senate makes me doubtful. What happens during the months (or perhaps year or more...societal structure would last at least that long...) where we have a 4-4 left versus right leaning divided court.
The system does not stop. It just does what the law is so good at doing...it applies a default mechanism to avoid a catastrophe in governance. Historical events like this cause such a nerdgasm for law/politics junkies such as myself. Ryan and I have just about overloaded on political fervor and excitement today. I mean, election year. On a debate day. We are living history. Okay. Back on topic.
So, what happens to cases currently pending before the Court?
If a decision has not been published, Justice Scalia's vote in that decision becomes void.
What does that mean as applied?
Some decisions will not be effected at all; I.e if a vote was 6-3 the decision outcome would be the same whether that decision becomes 5-3 or 6-2.
For others, they will be: "Affirmed by an equally divided Court"
By default, whoever won at the last level in the appellate process wins.
Not the most procedurally fair method, but it is better than the alternative. But the Court will not be even forever, and it remains to be seen how much deference that Court will give to "default outcomes.". I suspect that the major topics currently pending before the Court will be accepted for review again promptly upon appointment of a new Justice - but we have to live with the default outcomes in the meantime.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Topics effected by the default outcome (affirmed by an equally divided court) include: ACA contraceptive mandate, the legality of mandatory union dues, and whether legislative districts can be apportioned by total (rather than voter only) population under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Const.) and the procedural challenge to the Obama administration’s immigration policy.
Permanent effects often come from temporary situations. Let's hope as Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said earlier tonight, that if the President selects a qualified candidate, he would vote to confirm. All politicians who refuse to give due and careful consideration to any qualified nominee are in derogation of duty, and affirmatively damaging our country.
What to do in case of an accident
1. Always call for assistance.
Even if you can drive after the collision, it is critical that you get proof of the date, time, and other information regarding the collision. Insurance companies will look for any excuse to reduce, delay, and deny your claim. A police report is essential to prove the facts of the crash; even if an officer does not come to the scene, an insurer will use the fact that you didn't call as an excuse to unreasonably delay, deny, and reduce your claim for damages.
2. Exchange and Document.
Always exchange insurance information with the other driver. Get the driver’s name, address, and phone number, as well as their car insurance policy number. Document by taking pictures at the scene. Take pictures of all involved vehicles, including both damaged and undamaged areas. Also take pictures of the scene of the collision; traffic conditions, road conditions, weather, and other factors are important to document.
3. Don't Give Statements to the Other Driver's Insurance Company.
You may quickly begin receiving calls and messages from the other driver's insurance company, purportedly to "gather information" to "properly evaluate the claim." Statements are not meant to gather information to “properly evaluate the claim;” adjusters gather statements to find excuses to reduce, delay, and deny your valid claim. You have no duty to speak with them – don’t get bullied! Better yet, hire counsel and avoid the stress and problem altogether: An insurer may not speak directly with a represented claimant.
4. DO Cooperate with your OWN insurance company.
You have a contractual duty in your policy of insurance to cooperate with your own insurer, which generally includes a duty to provide information about the collision. Do not downplay your injuries. State the basic facts of the collision. Do not offer information that is not asked for. Answer only the question that is asked. Your own insurer is supposed to act with your best interests in mind; but, all too frequently, we see first person insurers unreasonably reducing, delaying, and denying claims for personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorists claims (UIM). The safest bet is to report the accident, and immediately hire counsel to help you navigate the entire claims process – including communicating with your own insurer.
5. Get Medical Care (Even if you don't think you are hurt)
Nearly every collision causes some injury. Strained and pulled muscles and ligaments (“Soft tissue injuries”) are the most common; our bodies are not meant to be banged around and whiplashed as happens in nearly every crash.
Soft tissue injuries are frequently downplayed by insurers, but they often take months of care to recover. Many people do not realize how hurt they are until days after a collision when they begin to feel their injuries more acutely. Later on, an insurer will use your delay in getting medical treatment as a reason to reduce, delay, and/or deny your claim.
6. Call a personal injury attorney who has experience with insurers.
Call a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies, and is familiar with your state’s insurance law. For example, in Washington, that would include the Insurance Fair Conduct Act and the Consumer Protection Act.
Breckan Law has the experience and knowledge to obtain favorable settlements, or, if necessary, take your case to litigation if the insurer will not settle for a reasonable amount.
Initial consultations for potential personal injury clients are complimentary.
As soon as you become our client, we assume the stress and pressure of communicating with the insurers so you can focus on your recovery and getting on with your life.
Nothing contained herein should be construed or replied upon as legal advice. Information provided herein may not be applicable to your unique situation. Nothing contained herein creates and attorney client relationship. Consult an attorney to discuss your situation.
JZK Inc. v. Virginia Coverdale
We appealed the June 2013 summary judgment ruling in favor of JZK, Inc. The lower court's ruling found that, as a matter of law, Ms. Coverdale breached a contract which prohibits the release of "any information" participants learn while attending events at Plaintiff's facility. We believe that allowing any for profit corporation to contractually bind its customers to secrecy violates public policy. Further, a company cannot bypass established trademark, copyright, and patent law to transform unprotected information into protected intellectual property via a clause in a boilerplate contract.
After two years of painstakingly making our way through the appeals wait list, Division II of the Washington Court of Appeals heard oral argument on September 11, 2015.
Breckan Scott presented on direct, and her co-counsel, Anthony Gipe, did an exemplary rebuttal argument.
A decision could be made at any time between now and several months from now. Once a decision is made, we will update you on our blog. In the meantime, feel free to follow recent WA Supreme Court and Appellate Court cases at: https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/
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Published and posted originally in the October 2012 edition of WSAJ Trial News
The Florida Stand Your Ground Law and What It Does: A specific explanation of how the law overreaches by going beyond allowing the use of deadly force in protection of yourself or your home, and encourages pursuit.
On February 22, 2012 a 9 year old boy brought a loaded .45 caliber handgun to school. It was in the child’s backpack when he slammed the pack onto a desk, and the gun inside discharged. It hit an eight year old girl who was a classmate of the boy. The bullet narrowly missed vital organs, but the girl has been subjected to multiple surgeries, and nearly died.
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