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Legal Links 2/28

A zip line rider has filed a negligence lawsuit against Zoom Air Daytona Beach (Daytona News-Journal)

5 takeaways from SCOTUS Voting Rights discussion, Justice Scalia is fired up (Politico)

Lying in an online dating site profile could come back to bite you, in a divorce (ABA Journal)

Four ‘Bama football players dismissed from team after being arrested for two robberies (Yahoo!)

Man accused of killing and dismembering mother appears in court wearing trash bag (AP)

If you have read the news recently, you might be wondering, what is sequestration? (Politico)

Not all lawyers are bad: 3L who wants to save the world, help children, given $20k towards student loans by Ellen. (ABA Journal)


Daily Discussion

If one of these answers does not fit your response, leave your answer in the comment box below

Here are some comments that have been posted on facebook:

“Nope. To Orwellian.” – Gustave D.

“Yes, I have nothing to hide.” – Doug F.

“Absolutely not. Might as well be in Jail.” – Shari F.


Legal Links 2/26

Italian jean designer that owns trademark on the name “Jesus” is cracking down on US clothing lines who have used “Jesus” (Fox)

Three fans injured at the NASCAR race this past weekend have hired attorneys (ESPN)

“Blade Runner” Murder Trial Update: Pistorius plans his own memorial service for Steenkamp (Yahoo!)

Supreme Court will not allow challenge to surveillance law, no standing (AP)

52-year-old female judge accused of having sexual relations with inmate inside interviewing room with 26-year-old client (Indy Star)

Deleware courthouse shooting update: Shooter wrote angry letters to one lawyer, failed to pay another years before courthouse slayings (ABA Journal)


Legal Links 2/25

Talk of NBA’s amnesty clause sparks feud: Kobe v. Mark Cuban (NBC Sports)

While visiting a client, lawyer accidentally gets locked in cell, police call the accident an “unfortunate incident” (ABA Journal)

Desmond Bryant arrested for criminal mischief, his mugshot is a must-see (USA Today)

Drug dealer tells jury he and lawyer worked on witness hit list, among other crimes (The Record)

What is it going to take? Increased penalties for dopers in MLB could be coming (Yahoo!)

Tom Brady signed to 3-year extension with Patriots (ESPN) Takes big pay cut (USA Today)

Just FYI, since you loaded this page, Yankee’s Alex Rodriguez has made ~100$,  almost $1.00 every second. 


Landmark Appellate Decision on Gun Rights: Opinion Breakdown

By John Phillips

In February 2010, gun enthusiast, Gray Peterson filed suit in federal district court against the ex officio sheriff of the City and County of Denver and the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, alleging that Colorado’s licensing regime for concealed handguns violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Second Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Click here for the published court opinion

Peterson was a resident of the State of Washington. At the time he filed his complaint, Peterson held a concealed weapons permit issued by the State of Washington and a second concealed weapons permit issued by the State of Florida. Peterson claimed to be a frequent visitor to Denver, and sought to carry a firearm when he visits the city. Towards that end, Peterson applied for a CHL with the Denver sheriff, which was denied because he does not meet the criteria set forth in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-203, as he was not a resident. Peterson’s permits were not reciprocal with Colorado. So, he sued. And lost.


With respect to Peterson’s claims against the Denver sheriff, the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit (the Appellate Court under the Supreme Court) concluded Friday, February 22, 2013 that the carrying of concealed firearms is not protected by the Second Amendment or the Privileges and Immunities Clause. In Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275 (1897), the Supreme Court stated in dicta that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.” Id. at 281-82.

This is a very import decision to establishing that (1) carrying a concealed weapon is subject to heightened government regulation (unlike a driver’s license, for instance); (2) concealed carry is not protected under the Second Amendment; and (3) the State’s ability to monitor licensees’ good character, competency and integrity, including their mental fitness, composure, maturity of judgment, and safe or unsafe habits are tantamount.

Want to know more about John? Click Here.


This Weekend’s NASCAR Crash, Injuries: A Legal Breakdown

By John M. Phillips

It has been reported that anywhere from 28 to 30-plus fans were injured when a violent crash shattered a race car, slinging parts from the track at the Daytona International Speedway through and over the fence and into the grandstands. No fatalities were reported. This entry looks at injury liability, contract law and “assumption of risk” and copyright law.

What happened?

The Saturday race was known as the NASCAR Drive 4 COPD 300 and is a part of the Nationwide Series. With two laps left, Tony Stewart took the lead, pushed by Sam Hornish. This pair couldn’t get more than a couple of lengths ahead of the pack, as racing has been made to be highly competitive over the years so finishes come down to an exciting ending. Hornish had to drop back to cool his engine. Stewart, without a partner, dropped to fifth. Brad Keselowski pushed Regan Smith into the lead.  Hornish got back behind Stewart with just under a lap to go and pushed him through the traffic to challenge Smith for the lead on the outside. Coming out of the final turn, Smith moved high to block Keselowski, who was trying to slingshot past to take the lead. The two cars touched, turning Smith sideways, and setting off a chain of collisions in the following pack. Kyle Larson’s , several places back, was hit from behind, sending it into the car ahead. The nose of Larson’s car dug in, the tail rose, and the car lifted off, spinning into the catch fencing four feet in the air, above the SAFER barrier. The fencing stopped the car from entering the stands, but some parts including the engine and a front wheel, went through or over the fence and into the crowd. His car was desiccated in the crash.


As a result, two huge holes were ripped in the catch fencing, and a steel standard was bent by the force of a 3600-lb. racecar hitting it at 180 mph. Thankfully, the strength of the safety barrier was sufficient to keep most of the wreckage out of the stands. Had the fence been even slightly less strong, massive fatalities almost certainly would have occurred.

History of fan injury:

The worst motor racing spectator tragedy in history was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955. Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes shot into the main grandstands, immediately killing 81 spectators and Levegh. Officials at Le Mans decided not to stop the race, fearing that if they did, the ensuing bedlam would further jam the small roads from Circuit de la Sarthe back into the town of Le Mans, blocking the paths of ambulances carrying dozens of badly injured. Some French journalists believed the death toll eventually exceeded 100.

Flying tires have been a race promoter’s nightmare for decades. Most recently, tires and shrapnel flying over fences caused two tragedies in less than a year in Indy car racing in 1998 and ’99.  Three spectators were killed during a CART race at Michigan International Speedway in ’98, by shrapnel that flew over the fence and into the stands.  Less than a year later, at Charlotte Motor Speedway, three more fans were killed by one flying tire during an Indy Racing League event.

Those two tragedies prompted heightening and strengthening of catch fences, and widening of their overhangs, at tracks nationwide. NASCAR was proactive at that time, mandating tethers for wheels and hoods on its cars, so they’d be “tied down” essentially.  But no tethers are totally invulnerable to shearing in crashes as violent as Saturday’s.

What went wrong:

NASCAR officials said the tether system designed to keep the tires attached to the car “for the most part held up” even though two tires went into the stands. “The tethers did hold on, but the challenge is that piece obviously got away when it hit the fence,” NASCAR Senior VP Steve O’Donnell said of the front of Larson’s car that was sheared off. “That’s something, again, we can learn [from]. “The tethers came from an incident where we learned with a tire going and escaping from the cars. We implemented tethers. Now we’ve got to take another look and say, ‘Hey, is that the best practice or is there more that we can do?’ ”  O’Donnell did not speculate on whether the crossover gate in the fence at the major point of impact played a role in making the accident worse. The remaining front stretch crossover gates were not removed for the 500.

Read more »


Delaware Courthouse Shooting Update, Shooter was After Lawyer who Wasn’t There

Last week we posted an article, In the Line of Fire: How Dangerous is the Legal Profession? , in which we listed several recent acts of violence within the legal community. One of those stories was about a courthouse shooting in Delaware in which a gunman shot and killed two women before taking his own life. Since that post, chilling information has come forward.

According to an ABA Journal article, among the items found during a search of the shooter’s home was a book titled, Kill All the Lawyers. The ABA Journal also reported that, “when (the shooter) arrived on Feb. 11 at the Delaware courthouse, apparently had with him handwritten ‘death certificates.'” The death warrants were written for attorney Timothy Hitchings and his client. Fortunrately, Hitchings did not appear in court that day.


Legal Links 2/21

‘Blad Runner’ trial update: lead detective dropped, faces 7 charges of attempted murder (

NFL combine watch (ESPN)

Attorney held in contempt, fined $1,000 for being ‘disrespectful’ said, bond amount was ‘ridiculous’ (ABA Journal)

‘TWITTER FIGHT!” The NFL’s Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis exchange tweet-jabs  (ESPN)

Parents file suit, claim grade school yoga classes are inherently religious (ABA Journal)

I Can’t find my ball!” Match play in AZ postponed after snow storm on golf course (Reuters)

Rotting corpse found in hotel’s water supply, guests used, drank water for up to two weeks (CNN)

Carnival Cruise victims, file class action lawsuit (Breitbart) John Phillips weighs in (C&S)


Daily Discussion 2/19

“Doctors can advise patients to put covers on electrical outlets, keep poisons locked up and a host of other measures to protect children. Yet, they aren’t supposed to mention gun safety. Put a cord, drano, a pill bottle & a gun in their reach and see which is more fatal. I just spoke to a group of UF / Shands / Wolfsons pediatricians about the ambiguous state of these laws.” – John M. Phillips

Agree? Disagree? Comment below.


Legal Links 2/19

BREAKING LEGAL NEWS: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an alert by a drug dog gave a Florida police officer probable cause to search a truck with a expired plates. 

Lawyer charged with eight felonies after she lied about her age exposing a much deeper history of lies and forgery (ABA Journal)

‘Blade Runner’ trial update, formally charged (ESPN)

Contract holdouts could become a big problem for the NFL (NBC Sports)

Boston Bruins held a hockey clinic in Newtown, Conn. (CBS Boston)


“Attorney Big Al”: Santa Claus or Racist Faux Pas?

Have you heard of “Attorney Big Al”?  Here is the jingle-

The ads are worse.  The marketing videos go even further-

Free money, huh?


Please stop, close your eyes and picture “Attorney Big Al.” Hold on to that image.  What do you envision? (please vote)



“Attorney Big Al” is “Real”- or is he?

Promoting “Attorney Big Al,” local DJ T-Roy (from 93.3 the Beat) once said, “Big Al is so real that he will help you get real cash.” He also called “Big Al” his “new best friend.”  And said you could call Big Al, “Right now!” and he is “real personal.”  In fact, he is “so real that he will help you get real cash.”  And T-Roy said that Big Al will get you “racks on racks on racks on racks, ten stacks or better” of cash.  See it for yourself in one of several videos on the internet-


Did the image in your mind’s eye change?


Is there any doubt that T-Roy was referring to a real lawyer- a human with a law degree?


Well, that image might get even better and bigger, “Because getting you paid is what he ’bout,” according to this video:

And, he’s going to take care of your bills, too:



T-Roy doesn’t know, nor is he in any way responsible for the Bar Rules a lawyer like “Big Al” must adhere to.  T-Roy was just doing a promo.  Lawyers must control such promos.  This blog examines how real “Big Al” really is?


Who is “Attorney Big Al”?attorney big al insurance

First off, you probably haven’t heard of “Attorney Big Al” if you don’t listen to stations which play rap and R&B music, as this personal injury lawyer advertising campaign is predominately marketed to the African American population.  I discovered these ads while listening to T-Roy’s station and couldn’t believe my ears.  Each time, I was more offended.  The ads seemingly promise “Attorney Big Al” will get you money, even if you are at fault for the wreck, even if you don’t have insurance and a series of other flamboyant statements.  The commercial’s announcer and rapper used appropriate slang and spoke to a listener who was likely African American.  There was no “non commercial spokesperson” or any other disclaimer I thought was required under Florida law.

Attorney Big Al NationalSo, I was confused.  Was there a new lawyer in town?  Who was this “Big Al” and how big was he?  Unlike what T-Roy and other DJ’s across the country have been told to say, I couldn’t find “Attorney Big Al” anywhere.  In fact, every lawyer I could find who used “Attorney Big Al” as a name to market was white, not black.

So, I thought, “Attorney Big Al” is white? Or maybe “Attorney Big Al” actually has no color.  Maybe I am the insensitive one, assuming “Al” was African American.  Did I judge a rap jingle by its cover?  No.  The campaign used stereotype marketing, focused on African Americans. I never saw a white guy say they hired “Al” and I didn’t hear “Al” on any country stations.

As best as I can tell, these guys are the actual lawyers behind “Attorney Big Al” and/or the actual “Al”(s):



And they have allowed the trademark to be used by other lawyers not named “Al,” (yet who refers to himself as “Big Al” even though I think his name is Mark):



More Mark:



And Mark gives away money:



And More money:



You see, “Al” is apparently just a trademark of a lawyer referral service and not “A” singular human lawyer at all despite the fact the commercial seems to say otherwise.  People are allowed to purchase the right to call themselves “Attorney Big Al” and use the name for marketing.  There was NO specific “Attorney Big Al” in Jacksonville looking to get you paid.  Period.  The commercial which played here didn’t tell you that. T-Roy didn’t tell you that.  93.3 the Beat didn’t tell you that. Clear Channel didn’t tell you that.  And it is now gone from Jacksonville airwaves, and disappeared shortly after this blog was first posted.



I wish lawyers would just be real. Stop with the half-truths and gimmicks.  It’s why the public hates lawyers. 10478152_657299701019245_1158950497645599583_n

At least, on some sites, the lawyers disclose that ““BIG AL”, “1-800-HURT-123″ and “HURT123″ are registered trademarks of Hurt 123 Holding LLC and are used under license from “Hurt 123 Marketing LLC.”  So, even though some of these lawyers call themselves “Big Al,” they recognize it is a trademark. “Big Al” is and was a licensed out campaign.

The silliness doesn’t stop there.  They even picked their logo off of a contest site that had diamonds in it and is by far the slickest–  Here are the designs they did not choose-

So, I poked fun at them.  What did they do, they threatened to sue me if I didn’t remove this blog.  Why?

In full disclosure, this was part of their explanation of it all:

big al letterI am still confused.  Are you?


What do the Rules of Ethics say?

Under Florida law:


(a) Name and Office Location. All advertisements for legal employment must include:

(1) the name of at least 1 lawyer, the law firm, the lawyer referral service if the advertisement is for the lawyer referral service, or the lawyer directory if the advertisement is for the lawyer directory, responsible for the content of the advertisement; and

(2) the city, town, or county of 1 or more bona fide office locations of the lawyer who will perform the services advertised.

A lawyer must advertise his actual name and office.   In the “Attorney Big Al” ad I heard, “Big Al” who no last name, identifying information and made promises that were problematic.

Listen and see if you hear anything 4.7.12 requires:




A lawyer may not engage in deceptive or inherently misleading advertising.

(a) Deceptive and Inherently Misleading Advertisements. An advertisement is deceptive or inherently misleading if it:

(1)  contains a material statement that is factually or legally inaccurate;

(2)  omits information that is necessary to prevent the information supplied from being

misleading; or

(3) implies the existence of a material nonexistent fact.

“Attorney Big Al”- does he exist?  I don’t know to this day and can’t get a straight answer.  The name alone implies the existence of a fact which does not seem to exist.  Or does it?  Is Alon “Attorney Big Al”?  I don’t know.  Thus, it is inherently misleading.  I also heard an ad in Florida that misstated how PIP insurance claims work.  It’s disturbing.

And then the ad and promoted testimonials make:

(1) statements or information that can reasonably be interpreted by a prospective client as a prediction or guaranty of success or specific results;

You cannot do that.  And also, you cannot use:

(5) a voice or image that creates the erroneous impression that the person speaking or shown is the advertising lawyer or a lawyer or employee of the advertising firm. The following notice, prominently displayed would resolve the erroneous impression: “Not an employee or member of law firm”;

I am still wondering about who the lawyer behind the ad is and who are the firms’ employees.  Who is singing?  And is “Big Al” an employee?  Which office?  This is entirely putting aside T-Roy’s testimonial which clearly stated Big Al was real and he has personally met him and other comments that he is “nationally” known and worked for insurance companies.

Attorney Big Al GiveawayUnder Maryland’s Rule 7.2, regarding advertising, (c), states “A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services…”  That cash that is being shown off in the endorsement video, was that tied to the recommendation of “Attorney Big Al”?  Probably not.  But why use cash give-aways in marketing?  Why film it?  Why- to really any of this?


And similarly:

Rule 7.1 Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it:

(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;

(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or

(c) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.

Isn’t this whole campaign misleading?  I think so, but that is just my opinion.

 We could go on with the same ads run in Georgia, Texas and other jurisdictions.

Why is this a problem?

GiveStatistics from show- 1 out of 3 boys born to African American families today will likely to go to jail; black men are 8% of the population in the United States and comprise 3% of college undergraduates and 48% of prison inmates; 1 out of 2 young black men do not finish high school; 3 out of 4 of them will be unemployed and 60% of them will eventually be incarcerated. That is the state of black men and boys in America. It is a state of urgency.

Leaders, like DJ’s across the country, must refuse to dumb down and what Hollywood has let portray the African American male become who he is. Let him be strong and smart. Let him not fall for those that seek to use and deceive him.

I know it may not be my place, but no one else is saying it and we cannot let this trash continue.  There is no magic answer and white men using a fictional “Attorney Big Al” to give away money and say a wreck can lead you to “stacks” or “racks” of cash is just not responsible.


What is the other side’s response?

We have been asked to take this blog down.  We did for a while.  The people behind “Attorney Big Al” don’t want anything negative to show up and detract from their brand.  So, we might get sued or create an enemy.  It’s unfortunate, but important.




Legal Links 2/18

NFL player arrested for having loaded hand gun at NY airport (Yahoo! Sports)

Cleveland judge bribery conviction upheld by 6th circuit (ABA Journal)

First female mayor of San Diego misused charity money  to cover $1 billion gambling addiction (CNN)

Why you should be a lawyer, one attorney’s story, ‘I love being a lawyer’ (ABA Journal)

“Show me the money!” moment looming, NY Jets’ Revis wants more money (NBC)  (Rightfully so, he was rated 99/100 on Madden ’12)

The Current State of Albert Pujols- a good read for MLB fans. (


ABA Midyear Meeting: Scrapping the Third Year of Law School?

The hot topic at this year’s ABA Midyear Meeting in Dallas was the discussion of cutting law school programs from three years to two years. Proponents of the idea believe that eliminating the third year would decrease the financial burden on law students and in effect decrease the cost of obtaining legal representation. Duke law professor Paul Carrington, who brought the idea forward at the meeting, has been the leading advocate for the one year reduction.


Graduating from law school with overwhelming debt not only hurts the student’s personal financial situation, but the legal profession as a whole. Illinois State Bar Association President John Thies explained why, “New lawyers have too much debt to work in public interest positions, to make a living providing affordable legal services, to work in rural areas, and to work in small law firms.” He continued, “Debt burdened lawyers are less likely to engage in pro bono work and judging by the anecdotal evidence, they could be more likely to commit ethics violations.”

Courts & Sports’ John M. Phillips believes that cutting programs down to two years would have a negative impact on the legal profession, “The third year is not a waste. You are recieving a doctorate. The amount of lawyers (that would enter the industry) would increase dramatically – with it, more depserate law grads would be seeking to enter an already crowded marketplace where ethics are going down the drain.”

After analyzing the numbers, Jim Chen, a professor and former dean at the University of Louisville School of Law, said law graduates need “an annual salary equal to two-thirds of their law school debt to make law school viable.” Chen recommended a few alternatives to cutting a third year, such as, “requiring law professors to take a one-third pay cut or give up job security.”

Another alternative would be to offer a degree similar to a nurse practitioner in the medical profession. More than a paralegal (nurse) but not quite a lawyer (doctor).

I asked Michael Galdenzi, a second year student at the Florida Coastal School of Law, what he thought. His first questions was, “How would that affect bar passage rates?” The answer, also discussed at the Midyear meeting, was that the ABA would push the Supreme Court to lower the amount of subjects tested on the bar, allowing two years of law school to be sufficient. Yet obviously, this would decrease the general legal knowledge of attorneys entering the field. And this begs the question- Would potential clients be weary of hiring a new attorney with only two years of legal education as opposed to an older attorney who had three years of legal education?

“I think it would just create lawyers who are not as good as the ones we have today.” Galdenzi said, “It would water down the already flooded lawyer market. Completing a three year program means that one has to be absolutely committed to the profession. Comparing this to a doctor works well because doctors have to spend many years in school in order to achieve their title and ability to practice in the field. Barriers to entry into certain fields are good because it keeps people out who are not passionate about the profession.”

Read more »


Carnival Passengers Stuck at Sea, a Brief Legal Breakdown

As most of you know by now, recently a Carnival cruise ship lost power at sea after a fire broke out on board. Passengers were trapped for days without electricity, proper plumbing, or descent meals. The conditions were apparently horrible, mostly resulting from the ships failed plumbing systems. Passengers described the conditions as “hellish,” “sewage everywhere,” and “a cesspool.”


According to a Reuters report at least one passenger has already filed a lawsuit against Carnival stating “horrifying” conditions including being forced to wade through human feces.

“The lawsuit by Cassie Terry of Brazoria County, Texas, alleged Carnival failed to provide a seaworthy vessel and sanitary conditions, according to court documents.” Reuters reported, “Terry suffered physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, nervousness and the loss of the enjoyment of life, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Miami.”

While the passenger’s experience onboard the liner was nothing short of awful, do they have a legitimate legal claim?

According to John, Carnival cruise line passengers signed stringent waivers and thus assumed the risk of this happening via contract. Therefore, cruise line damages are capped by contract. In the U.S., cruise ship contracts generally cannot dismiss claims for negligence that is willful and wanton or gross. Still tough here. The plaintiff(s) would have to show that they knew the engines were bad or in poor condition and likely to breakdown.

We will just have to wait and see what happens. Stay tuned for updates on the legal aspects of the Carnival cruise debacle.


Jacksonville Parking App for Smart Phones Could Cost the City $300,000

The city of Jacksonville as proposed a smart phone application that will help people find parking spaces. While the app sounds facially convenient, it seems that the app my have some inherent downfalls. The development and implementation of the app could end up costing the city as much as $300,000.


Courts & Sports writer and contributing attorney John M. Phillips weighed in on the issues underlying the parking app:

“Despite downtown Jacksonville’s one-way streets, roundabouts, pedestrians and distracted drivers, the city is promoting a new phone application to help people find open parking meters downtown.

Instead of finding a way to inspire people to use the Skyway and its adjacent empty garages or using city money to clean up downtown, the city would rather step into the digital age at a cost of about $25 per sensor. By doing so, Jacksonville is eating away at the parking profit it had to encourage distracted driving.

Bad call — no pun intended.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.

Studies have shown drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. The city, of course, has sovereign immunity and will blame you if you get into an accident using the app to park your car.

And then there is the invasion of privacy. Do the meters “work in reverse,” meaning meter police can monitor expired meters, leading them right to the expired ones? And you may need to hire a lawyer of your own to decipher the “terms of service” that you have to accept to use the free app, which allows the company to use your information and disclose it to others.

All in all, I hate the idea. The primary areas by the Landing or Main Library where there is traffic congestion do not need any help raising revenue. Areas further away do not have parking problems that I have seen.

It is a gadget. It is a distraction.

And it is just adding another peril for pedestrians to avoid while they are trying to go to work.