When a police officer goes too far – and uses excessive force – he can be held accountable for the harm he causes. Police officers have a tough job. We rely on them to keep us safe, and most of the time an officer uses force it is justified. Still, if you have been harmed by the actions of a police officer, you may have a case. The officer and his or her agency may be responsible for your damages.

Holding a law enforcement officer accountable is not an easy assignment. The evidence must make it clear that the force used was unreasonable or unnecessary. For example, if an officer used a baton or stun gun on someone who was simply arguing whether he or she had been speeding, a case might be made that the officer had used excessive force.

Here are three things to keep in mind about your potential excessive force claim:

First, a law enforcement officer may use force that is necessary under the circumstances presented. So not every use of force will result in a case.
Second, juries want to believe that law enforcement officers “did the right thing” when confronted with a tough situation. This means that you will likely start at a disadvantage when it comes to credibility, so your choice of a lawyer to handle the case is critical to your possible recovery.
Finally, there are procedural hurdles designed or intended to keep you out of court and to limit your recovery. Do not wait to contact an attorney and review your rights as the passage of time may destroy any opportunity you have to recover.

To safeguard your rights, your lawyers need to build your case expecting to go to trial. This means that we will help you safeguard evidence, document your medical treatment, account for lost wages and employment, and identify and interview witnesses.

If you or a family member have been injured or killed as the result of a confrontation with the police, call us for a free consultation.

 


Continue Reading Excessive Force Claims Require Action – Get Information About Your Right To Recover For Injuries

Have you noticed how many attorney websites are all about the lawyer and pay no attention to the information that people charged with criminal matters are looking for? Most lawyer websites scream: "Hire me! Do it now! You might go to prison if you don’t act within the next hour! Call me now!"

I hate those websites! Instead of providing information, the lawyers using the sites try to scare you into hiring them based on emotion, not information. The truth is you might not even need an attorney to handle your case. So before you sign that retainer agreement, get informed!

This blog is different. There is a ton of free information here for you to review based on your needs. Have a DUI case? Check out the DUI section of the Topics. Have a question about how to value a personal injury or wrongful death case? Look at the Civil Practice section.

The Topics section can lead you to information that you can use to help you become informed on whatever area of law you are interested in. Well, not every area – this blog is really about criminal defense, civil rights and civil trials. With over thirty years of experience in those areas, my goal is to help you become better informed!

And what if the issue you have is not listed in the Topics? Send me a question and I will get back to you. We promise to get you information – then you can make a great decision about whether you need a lawyer and which lawyer you want to hire.

 


Continue Reading Idaho Criminal Defense Blog Is About Content – Free Information For You On Criminal Defense In Idaho

In the past six weeks, Courtney and I have tried two criminal cases in Ada County.  The first case charged vehicular manslaughter – two felony counts. Last week we tried a case that charged aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and injury to jails (both felonies), as well as misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment, battery and destruction of a communication device (a cell phone). We picked juries in each case, and had the benefit of a jury consultant on the manslaughter case. As we have earlier reported in this blog, the jury in the manslaughter found our client not guilty of the felonies. Last week the jury in the aggravated assault case said not guilty as to the disputed charges (but guilty of the battery in the face of a self-defense claim), but guilty of the two misdemeanors our client had admitted committing.

So what did we learn?

In each case we approached the process of jury selection as one of inclusion, not exclusion. This is a Trial Lawyers College ("TLC") thing. Getting rid of folks from the panel is always tricky, even with a jury consultant, because lawyers are usually looking to "craft" a panel of jurors who are more likely to go their way than the way of their opponent. The problem with that approach is that we are not as "crafty" as we believe. So the TLC approach is different – start instead with your biggest fear in the case and work your way through this with the potential jurors. So we start by admitting we have potential problem areas in the case, and ask the jurors if they are going to be able to remain open to the balance of the case even knowing about the problems. We try to include folks by talking about the warts, and then getting the juror to open up about his or her feelings. Sounds all "touchy-feely" doesn’t it? I think it works.  

Let’s consider the problem posed by a recent client’s admissions that he had hit his girlfriend. Guy hitting girl equals problem. Growing up as men in society, we hear repeatedly a universal truths: "men don’t hit girls." Period. Ever. So when we have a client who has done that – struck a woman – you need to talk about it early and often with potential jurors because it goes against this deep seated belief we have as men. We talk it out and see if the jurors can get past it and get to the issue that they must decide.

Of course all this talk about inclusion is in some ways just talk. At the end of the day the lawyer has to decide which jurors represent the biggest obstacle to a fair trial based on their answers and their experience.  With thousands of dollars paid to jury consultants, I have never forgotten the words of the Hat – "experience trumps everything else." He is right about that. Any juror who has had an experience with domestic violence cannot help but have a predisposition one way or the other in a domestic violence case. If you can get them talking they will tell you whether they can serve fairly. 

But back to the question – what did we learn?

First, we learned that the TLC process works to identify the potential trouble spots with jurors. Spence says that if you are willing to show the jurors your weakness (area of concern) they will talk about their own fears. I think that is exactly what happened in both cases. In the manslaughter case I talked about my fear that people might immediately conclude a person with poor vision has no place driving on the road. The jurors opened up about that weakness and talked through their perceptions. From that we made some inroads into building a relationship with the jurors. They understood that they could look to us for the answers in the case, and they could trust us to be honest about the evidence.

The second thing we learned was that having the jury consultant is a huge help but you can get past the benefit of that expertise by taking more preparation time for voir dire.  Given my choices, I would always enlist the aid of a consultant, but even the best consultant cannot pick your jury. The lawyer is ultimately going to have to make the tough call about who should stay and who should go. The consultant I use always asks me what ONE question I would ask if I could only ask one. From that one question we need to be able to expose our concern to the jury and get them talking about how they feel.

Getting ready for trial? Worried about picking that jury? Get a copy of Gerry Spence’s book "Win Your Case" and read the chapter on jury selection. That is a great starting point for the TLC method that consistently works for us.

 


Continue Reading Jury Selection – Try To Include Potential Jurors But Get Them Talking

 Is a convenience store that sells alcohol to a minor liable for injuries caused when the minor, drunk and driving, injures or kills another? The answer is likely "yes."  I had an interesting call about such a fact pattern and did a little research to find a similar fact pattern, and there are plenty of them out there.

Generally, a


Continue Reading Sale of Alcohol To Minors Can Create Civil Liability

 This week I had to write that "sorry, but I cannot take your civil rights case" letter to a man who had been badly assaulted in prison.  In Idaho over the past year there have been a number of lawsuits filed by prisoners and lawyers on their behalf for damages they received when the prison failed to protect them from


Continue Reading How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth In Boise, Idaho?

 Almost forgot about this one – Charles Hartman – pled guilty to sexual abuse of a minor in 2007. On January 13th a jury awarded his victim $1.9 million. Boise lawyer Walt Bithell represented the victim, who was 16 at the time she was molested. Speaking about the role of the civil case:

"The civil case is designed to do


Continue Reading In Boise – Jury Awards Sex Abuse Victim $1.9 Million

 When I was at the Trial Lawyers College I met Daniel Rodriguez – a mild mannered civil rights lawyer from Bakersfield CA. He showed me there that he was simply one of the greatest story tellers in the class and undoubtedly one of the great trial lawyers in the country. He has a home town style that quickly captivates those


Continue Reading Jury Awards $31M for Drunk Driving Victim

 In another one of those confusing 9th Circuit fraud decisions – the Court of Appeals has upheld the convictions and sentences of three men who summoned the likes of Charles Ponzi and swindled 1700 investors out of $40 million. In US v. Treadwell the Court upheld an instruction  that “intent to defraud is an intent to deceive or cheat,” and


Continue Reading 9th Circuit Says Intent to Defraud is the Intent to Cheat

 In the past week or so, two men were killed while riding their bikes in Boise.  Tonight, a third cyclist was struck by a car near Fairview and Amber streets.  How does it happen that drivers continue to injure and kill persons riding their bikes lawfully, on Boise streets? I have to confess that I ride on Boise streets almost


Continue Reading A Third Bicyclist Hit – This Time Injured