Florida Dog Bite Law to be Challenged

    To many who own them, dogs are more than just pets. They are a part of the family. They can be protectors. They can be co-workers. They can be the one type of therapy that actually helps a person overcome trauma in their past. With so much emphasis, both emotional and economical at times, placed on our furry friends, a law in Florida is being reexamined and potentially updated and changed. As of now, if a dog bites a person hard enough to require any sort of serious medical attention (such as stitches), the dog is to be euthanized with no chance of explanation. This means that even if your dog is defending your property from an armed intruder, it will die.

    The law is being looked at thanks to Representative Greg Steube who rightly thinks that the law is absurd and gives the owner of the dog no chance to try to protect their beloved pet. The bill has already passed its first test in the government, with one hearing down and it receiving unanimous support. Now there is going to be a second hearing, followed by a third, and then it will be on Florida Governor Rick Scott’s desk by January if it all goes according to plan. I can’t think of many people who would vote against this sort of change to existing legislation. While obviously some dogs bite good people and some are dangerous, that doesn’t mean that a dog protecting its family deserves to die with no chance of reprieve.

    This current examining of the law was brought to light over a case currently in court. A dog named Padi bit a 4 year old on the ear, leading to him needing 3 reconstructive surgeries (though the child is fine in every other respect). Padi is a loved family dog with no previous issues in terms of biting or being dangerous. According to his owner (and witnesses), Padi only attacked after being cornered by the child and having toys thrown at him for minutes. Padi acted as any animal (humans included) would’ve when under attack and escape wasn’t an option. Does that mean he deserves to die?

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Florida Is Going to Introduce a Daily Fantasy Sports Bill

    Since they were first introduced to the mass public watching sports, daily fantasy sports betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have been capturing the minds of consumers and the attention of lawmakers. Betting has had a tenuous relationship with all forms of government (local, state, federal) and legislators for a long time and the laws regarding it are confusing and change depending on where you are. Daily fantasy sports leagues just add another layer of confusion to the mess simply because of how popular they are. Millions of people across the country watch sports, play in fantasy sports leagues, and engage in some sort of betting or another, whether from company pools to the websites and apps in question.sports gambling

    Unlike many states that are considering outlawing companies like DraftKings and FanDuel do to gambling restrictions, two Florida legislators is looking to do something a little bit different. Instead of outright banning the practice and the companies that facilitate these practices, they want to introduce laws that will regulate the practice and introduce consumer protections laws so that people don’t get taken advantage of and harmed financially. Republican state Senator Joe Negron and Representative Matt Gaetz are pushing for the law because they believe that people engaging in daily fantasy sports betting don’t deserve to be criminalized and penalized by the law.

    That being said, they are also fully aware of just how these sorts of fantasy apps work. Most of the money is won by a very small percentage who do nothing but study statistics and turn fantasy sports betting into a full-time job of sorts. Seeing as almost everyone using these apps are simply doing so casually and for fun, they run the very real risk of being swindled out of their money. Companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have been hiring lawyers and lobbyists in states across the country once they got wind that legislation (both for them and against them) in an attempt to sway people to their sides and if what’s happening is an example, it seems as though this strategy might be working.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Sarasota Sheriff’s Office to Receive Heroin Medication

    More and more reports seem to be flooding the news regarding the ongoing fight against the heroin epidemic that has struck much of the country. Heroin is becoming a larger and larger issue in the United States due to the easy access (and frequently unnecessary prescriptions from doctors), the high chance for addiction and abuse, and the high price involved in getting pills. As heroin becomes more and more prevalent, and rates of addiction go up, governments across the board (both at the state and federal level) are working hard to both stem the tide of addiction, as well as provide the necessary treatment and guidance for those who need it.

    The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office announced Friday that they received a donation of 800 doses of naloxone, a drug that stops the effects of an opioid overdose and saves victims from death. KATE IRBY/Bradenton Herald

    The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that they received a donation of 800 doses of naloxone, a drug that stops the effects of an opioid overdose and saves victims from death. KATE IRBY/Bradenton Herald

    The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office is going to be the first law enforcement agency in Florida to receive funding from a new law that is aiming to fight heroin on a series of levels. This new law will allow officers to administer medication to people who are overdosing on heroin and other opioids and drugs. The officers have received 800 doses of EVZIO — an auto-injector of naloxone, which immediately stops the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose upon injection — in a donation from the manufacturer of the drug, Kaléo. The donations amount to about $320,000 and the drug is both easy to use and provides no harmful side-effects to people who aren’t overdosing but have been injected by accident.

    With 99 deaths due to opiate overdose in 2014 and a much higher number expected for 2015, these drugs and the training officers will receive will be truly life-saving. While the drug won’t cure addiction (it will only help fight overdoses), it will allow victims to survive, recover, and give them more time with their family and loved ones, increasing the chance that they will enter a treatment program. This is the perfect example of laws cutting through bureaucracy and finding bipartisan support for a cause that is obviously in need of tackling. Hopefully the price for individual doses of this medicine will decrease (it’s still high and preventing other counties from taking advantage of this law) so that more doses can be used to save more lives.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Australian Data Retention Law Begins

    We live in a world where both people and governments are becoming more and more paranoid about each other and their neighbors every day. Over the past few years, we’ve seen how the international political community has been rocked by the leaking of intelligence data regarding the NSA and the US government spying on both friends, its own civilians, and foes. While it’s an unspoken acknowledgement that all countries spy on each other regardless of relations, the US broke the cardinal rule of not getting caught. Now, as this sense of technological paranoia continues to grow, a new Australian law aimed at data retention and surveillance has begun today.data retention

    This newest law is proving to be controversial to say the least. It requires telecommunication companies to to hold on to metadata for 2 years, allowing the Australian government to access said data for security purposes. The companies would hold on to data including who called or texted, the amount of data sent/time spent on a call, the locations, the device used, the email IP data, and more. Holding on to this information would allow the government to access it easier and use it to pursue national security interests and concerns. With the rise of extremism and terrorism in all aspects of society, this sort of data can be used to learn about and prevent attacks of any sort before they begin.

    As anyone can expect, this new law has been proving very controversial in Australia since it was first brought up. While the government claims that the law is necessary for protection from terrorism, both domestic and external, privacy activists and other citizens are claiming a breach of privacy and the possibility for racial and religious profiling. Along with claims of the law demanding too much information for crimes that are both major and minor, another concern is that a warrant is no longer needed to request any of this information.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    A New Privacy Law Could Make Insurance Expensive

    Drones have been causing issues with both the law and U.S. citizens since they exploded in popularity a few years ago. There have been countless stories of people clashing and violence occurring when drones are involved in flying over private property. With issues of privacy and a fear of governmental and private spying and intrusion on private life, it makes sense that drones are viewed with suspicion — not that that justifies harming the operator or damaging someone else’s private property. Now, it seems as though a new law that was just enacted in my home state of Florida is going to make flying a drone even more financially risky.a drone flying in the air in florida

    Florida Governor Rick Scott had signed the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act (FUSA) and it took effect on July 1st. This act is meant to prohibit a person, governmental agency, or political party or subdivision to use drones from taking pictures and capturing video of a person’s private property or the people on said private property (regardless of whether they are the owner, an occupant, or simply a visitor) with the intent to conduct surveillance and spy on their private and personal lives. The law makes it so that a drone operator must get written consent from the people on said private property if they want to use the drone in this manner, especially if the people have a reasonable expectation of privacy on their own property. The law applies to both private citizens as well as law enforcement and goes along with a previous law that require police to get a warrant to use drones for evidence collection. It also doesn’t apply to certain businesses or professions that are licensed by the state for certain reasons.

    With the option to sue using this law as support, it’s going to become much more difficult for people and agencies to get insured against damage and lawsuits. It also means that many companies that rely on drones for their businesses are going to be bringing lawsuits against the state of Florida for infringing on their ability to conduct business in a free and fair way. Drones are used by insurance companies to scope out damage in hard to reach places and hazardous environments so that they can gather information more quickly and with less chance of putting someone in a dangerous position. While it remains to be seen how this will play out (after all, the law is relatively new), I can already foresee a host a lawsuits from both private citizens and corporations aimed at this law.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    BP Settles in Court Over 2010 Gulf Spill

    Derek ByrdAccording to a recent news article put out by the JURIST online archives, BP is paying 18.7 billion dollars in restitution and penalties due to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement, considered to be one of the largest in US history, is an addition to the previous payment of $43.8 billion they had to pay in penalties and clean up fees. The settlement sum will be split between the Clean Water Act  ($12.8 B) ,and the rest ($4.9 B) will be distributed among the states that were affected by the spill. 

    Despite these penalties, a report filed by the U. S Public Interest Research Group is claiming that BP could benefit from this settlement once it files taxes at the end of the year. The Federal tax law does not prevent BP (or any other company) from treating the ecosystem restoration pay out as a business expense, which means that they can get a tax break on any money that isn’t used to pay penalties. Phineas Baxandall, an analyst for tax and budget policy, believes that BP should be held accountable for their actions, and in no way should they shift this burden to taxpayers.  In order to ensure this does not happen, Public Interest Research Group is pleading the federal judge to make these court documents public, and to incorporate specific language that will not allow BP to get tax breaks from this settlement.

    The devastating 2010 spill has had major negative impacts on the ecosystem and families surrounding the Gulf, however many environmentalists believe that this settlement is a positive step towards restoration and helping out the communities whose livelihood was seriously hurt. Shortly after the spill, the US president appointed a committee that could answer questions, gather data and devise a plan for reconstruction. Their jobs will be much more intense now that the resources are in place. 

    Fore more information on the ruling : http://jurist.org/paperchase/2015/07/bp-agrees-to-187-billion-settlement-over-2010-oil-spill.php


    Florida Lawyers Travel to Cuba

    Derek ByrdThe past few months have been loaded with bits and pieces of information regarding travels to Cuba, and the normalization of our relationship with the next door neighbor. As our partnership with the country continues to improve, it is imperative for us to become familiar with Cuban legislature and its laws. It has been over 50 years since the Cuban Embargo was put in place, and establishing appropriate channels to exchanging legal information and policies will be very helpful towards tourism between both countries. 

    The Florida Bar Association is sponsoring a group of 37 lawyers to fly to Havana this week and attend a four day seminar. The objective of this trip will be for US attorneys to become familiar with Cuba’s legal system and politics. Given the overwhelming numbers of travels that are planned to happen in the next few years, this council will also look at the economic state of Cuba and bring back these important findings. 

    The four day excursion will also focus on the understanding of foreign organizations operating in Cuba, and the legal ramification that will follow their establishment. The attorneys will also become familiar with specific regulations regarding investment opportunities, and business dealings. During this trip the attorneys will also be meeting with their counterparts from the Cuban Bar Association, as well as state officials. These exchanges will place light on a lot of inquiries US companies have about owning land or establishing businesses in Cuba. Topics on telecommunications and banking, as well as the supply of water and electricity are some of the most immediate questions investors would like to know.  On a lighter note, the 37 lawyers will also be able to tour some of the country’s historical establishments, such as the Museum of Cuban Art and have a performance of Cuban music and dance. 

    Cuba is taking a cautious response in relation the US inquiries and interests. Given that there are no private practices all commercial opportunities have to pass through government- run entities.  


    Recent News from the Sarasota Herald- Tribune

    Derek Byrd

    News from the Herald Tribune

    Earlier this May, the Herald Tribune wrote a piece regarding the false arrest of Cooper Moore, for an outstanding aggravated battery assault from June 2014. Cooper was arrested by local police as soon as he landed on the Grand Cayman islands on a vacation with his current girlfriend. While he was being held up, Cooper asked the police to explain why he was detained, but they did not give an explanation and instead locked him up.

    At a loss for justice, Mr. Cooper’s parents contacted the Byrd Law Firm, which in collaboration with a private investigator put together a case that was aimed to clearing Cooper Moore’s name.  According to the documents, Cooper was wrongfully accused for partaking in a fight at a Florida Smokin’ Joes. However, the investigators found that Moore was not involved, and a witness revealed the correct name of the person who was involved. Due to these findings the charges were quickly dropped. 

    According to an officer who first responded to the scene, Moore’s name was first brought to him by a bar employee who showed him the suspects Facebook page. Officer Dodge, who was on the scene said that “people lie to us everyday and they don’t want to tell the truth especially if they are associated with someone involved in a crime.”

    According to The Innocence Project, misidentification of witnesses in regards to the crime scene is one of the leading reasons of wrongfully convicting and imprisoning people in the United States.  The article also points out that the recollection of witness memory of the crime scene is even less credible after they have been shown countless of photographs of the alleged victim. 

    Further evidence of the case used by lawyers at The Byrd Law Firm was Moore’s alibi and the fact that he was never contacted by the Sarasota Police Department. Cooper was never informed of his alleged involvement in the bar fight, and a warrant for his arrest was issued shortly after. Moore was not aware of these developments until policemen picked him up months later while he was vacationing with his girlfriend. 

    Derek Byrd, attorney for Cooper Moore, states that the findings regarding his client and other suspects should have been turned over to a detective for the facts to be checked and eventually cleared. Cooper told his attorney that during the night in question, he was home and had records to prove that he never left his apartment. 

    With the help of his attorney, Derek Byrd, Moore was able to clear his name  and no longer face 8 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He hopes that the police find the right person responsible for this fight and is willing to help in any way he can. 


    What is The Future of Law School?

    Derek ByrdDavid Solomon, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, believes that the fate of law programs and law graduate is going to drastically change in the next few decades.

    In a recent segment he wrote for the New York Times DealBook blog, Solomon focuses on the “signs of vigorous life in the legal job market” which is going to be a defining moment for the appeal law school has for most students. Solomon recognizes that issues such as unreasonable student debt, poor job opportunities, and changes in the school faculty structures are big contributors in the shift of law school enrollments.

    Solomon also points to the low levels of student application, which have gone down to 2.9 percent this year alone. He continues to dissect the situation even further, by concluding that class sizes could steady around 37,000 students,  or even in the 1970s levels. Intimate classrooms could mean more jobs available for those who do graduate, and less competition for available jobs in this field.

    For high ranking schools the employment market is already looking up. Georgetown University, for instance, had a 93 percent employed rate for its 2013 graduate class, and more than sixty percent were hired in the private sector-  with a starting salary of $160,000.

    David also mentions other profits of pursuing a legal career. A study conducted by professors Frank McIntyre and Michael Simkovic found that moving on from graduate school in a terrible economy had a generally little effect on lifetime income in respect to graduating with a four year certification. In spite of the fact that unemployment levels at graduation influence pay for the initial four years, the effect disappears as law graduates advance in their careers. The study concludes that, in this day, a law degree is estimated at $1 million in a lifetime. 

    In addition, Solomon also refers to the American Bar Foundation’s After the JD study, which follows attorneys who successfully passed the bar exam in 2000. After two years, law students were very content with the decision to attend law school and career path. Even students from lesser known schools and un-impressive grades were able to earn up to $95,000 during their first year.


    Legal Writing Tips

    Derek Byrd Lawyers are often judged not only by their oratory and interaction skills in the courtroom, but also on their writing capabilities.  Someone’s legal writing style differs due to a wide range of circumstances, such as the size of the firm they work for and the amount of resources offered, as well as the magnitude of the case and its specific requirements, which differ case by case. Bryan A. Garner has an extensive career as a lawyer, guest speaker and writer. He is well known for his LawProse CLE seminars that are available in your city by popular demand. During his litigation career Garner has come across some helpful guidelines to keep in mind for a more productive work flow.

    1. Understand your Client’s Needs
    When someone has been practicing a specific area of law for a long period of time, they might think that they have seen it all and most cases might start to look similar. Garner explains that its very important for litigators to truly understand their client’s situation and needs. During the interview session take good notes and come prepared with your own questions. A thorough briefing session is necessary in order to compose an all encompassing memo and case abstract.

    2. Use all Available Resources
    Today’s technology has made it very easy for attorneys to solely rely on online resources for their research. Publications such as  Corpus Juris Secundum and
    American Jurisprudence
    are obvious sources of knowledge, however they are still overlooked by many attorneys. Google books is also an option for those who want to pull from a wide and diverse variety of law journals, cases and books from all over the world.

    3. Grammar and Spelling
    This may be an easy one, but is overlooked by a lot of lawyers. Invest in a dictionary and be careful with your writing. If you turn in work that has a lot of grammatical errors, judges might think that you carry that type of carelessness in other areas of your job.

    4. Find a Mentor
    Don’t underestimate the power of mentors. This is a great way to have a pair of fresh eyes that can look over your work and give you some constructive criticism. Identify the great writers within your firm and close networking circles and reach out to them for help and some inspiration.

    If you are a fan of these simple tips mentioned above, Garner  has a wide variety of legal books that offer more helpful tips on legal writing and courtroom etiquette.