Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jury Duty Is More Than Just A Civic Duty

Every year in Connecticut, more than half a million citizens are selected for jury duty. While most jurors slog through the process without much joy, jury participation is absolutely essential to our judicial system and our Democratic form of government.

The Constitution mandates that every individual who faces incarceration for more than six months has a right to a jury trial, but juries are often available in civil cases as well. (Non-jury cases are heard only before a judge and are referred to as “bench trials.”) To guarantee a fair trial for all parties, the potential jurors (a.k.a. the “jury pool”) are selected from a cross-section of the community. Prior to trial, each party has an opportunity to examine the jury pool to ensure that none of the jurors has any prior knowledge or bias
regarding the case or parties to the case. From here, the court seats a jury of no less than six and no more than twelve citizens who will hear and ultimately decide the case.

Being judged by a panel of peers is just one characteristic that sets our judicial system apart from many other judicial systems around the world. Jury service is more than just fulfilling your civic duty—it’s what America is all about. Next time you’re randomly selected for jury duty don’t forget that your service is indispensable to the judicial system and to your peers who may be involved in a trial.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Refinancing Is Ripe for Legal Malpractice

With mortgage rates sinking to near-record lows, many homeowners are thinking about refinancing their existing mortgages. Although refinancing may result in significant monthly savings, the process of refinancing is a legal transaction and sometimes errors may occur.

A diligent lawyer will help navigate the real estate transaction by preparing the necessary documents of sale, ensuring that the seller has good title to the home, and overseeing the closing process. However, legal malpractice claims are rife in the real estate world. If you’ve lost money, opportunity, or your dream house because of sloppy work by your lawyer, don’t sit idly by. Contact our office to get more information about your potential legal malpractice claim.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

The legal market is rarely black and white. But nowhere is the grey more pervasive than in the case of insurance disputes.

If you are injured and your injury is covered by an insurance policy, the insurance company typically assigns you a lawyer in order to handle your claim. But does that lawyer represent you or the insurance company who is footing the bill for the legal work?

In most states, the lawyer is bound to represent you—not the insurance company. However, the lawyer may still feel pressure to meet the expectations of the insurance company in order to curry favor—and future jobs—from the deep-pocketed insurer.

If you’re concerned that your lawyer has an insurance company’s best interests in mind rather than yours contact our office to get more information about your potential legal malpractice claim.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Real Estate Overtakes Personal Injury As Top Area For Legal Malpractice Claims

On September 6, the ABA released a comprehensive report detailing some interesting changes in the legal malpractice world. The report, “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims: 2008-2011,” states that malpractice claims involving real estate transactions are now the most common type of legal malpractice claim (followed by personal injury and family law claims). Also of interest in the report is that while the number of low-dollar claims ($5,000 or less) has decreased over the period of the study, an increase in high-dollar claims has been noted. If you’ve been involved in a dispute with a former lawyer over a real estate transaction gone bad contact our office to get more information about pursuing a legal malpractice claim.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Is It So Hard To Win a Legal Malpractice Case?

Malpractice cases are notoriously tough to litigate. That’s because the plaintiff in a malpractice case must prove a case within a case. Specifically, the plaintiff must prove not only that the lawyer’s conduct was substandard, but the plaintiff must also prove that “but for” the lawyer’s error, the plaintiff would have won the case in which the lawyer represented him.

Due to these tough odds, many plaintiffs never pursue malpractice claims against their former attorneys. Perhaps they fear that the deck is stacked against them? At Stanger & Arnold, we sometimes go for the long ball. If you’ve been the victim of substandard or negligent legal representation, give us a call. We’ll get to the root of the problem and work with you to gain compensation for your loss.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hidden Cameras and Privacy Rights

As Mitt Romney and his staff work tirelessly to rebut the innuendo surrounding his now- infamous comments about the 47% Americans who are government “dependent,” a legal issue lurks beneath the surface: Is it legal to secretly videotape a person without his knowledge or consent?

In the majority of states—38 to be exact—the consent of only one party to a conversation is required in order to secretly record that conversation. In other words, a conversation between two or more parties may legally be recorded even if only one of the participants knows and has consented to the taping. In the other 12 states, every party must know about and consent to the recording, otherwise any publication of the recording will violate the privacy rights of the non- consenting individual(s).

The secret recording of Governor Romney’s speech was made while he was stumping in Florida, a state where it is illegal to record a conversation without the consent of all parties. So was it illegal to secretly record and then publish the speech? The answer comes down to “expectations.” A private individual in a similar situation would have had a reasonable expectation of privacy such that any recording published without his consent would be considered an actionable breach of privacy. However, a Presidential candidate speaking on a matter of public concern to a group of constituents does not have a reasonable expectation of
privacy in such a situation.

But here in Connecticut recording things such as a telephone call is only permitted if everyone recorded consents – beware and be careful.