Judiciary Budget Cuts Threaten Fundamental Liberties & Democracy

 

Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent for the National Law Journal penned an important article in the May 26, 2011 edition of USA Today, “Budget Cuts are crippling our nation’s courts”.

 

In the article, Mauro reports that Stephen Zack, President of the American Bar Association, has put together a task force led by Ted Olson and David Boies to shed light on and to help fight the real impact of budget cuts in the court system.  Mauro says, “…the American court system is not a run-of-the-mill state agency….they protect constitutional rights and freedoms enshrined not only in the Sixth Amendment but also in the Seventh, which guarantees the right to civil trials – disputes over contracts and property, divorce and custody among other matters.”  Mauro goes on remind us all that, “… businesses depend on courts to create a fair and predictable process for quick resolution of disputes.”

 

Stephen Zach, ABA President adds, “There’s no room to cut unless we want to cut our fundamental liberties and democracy.”  Mauro summarizes by saying, “Judges, lawyers, business leaders and public interest advocates should join forces to build a constituency for defending courts.”

 

In the article, David Udell, executive director of the National Center for Access to Justice says, “Failing to fund our courts is like failing to repair our bridges.  Disaster becomes inevitable, just a matter of time.”

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. applauds Stephen Zack and his team on their effort to create awareness among Americans about what is really at stake, individual rights and particularly the 7th Amendment right to civil trial.

 

Thanks to Tony Mauro for the excellent and informative article.

 

Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services

 

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Custom Email Signatures

 

We have recently been increasing our use of various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube , LinkedIn and this Blog.   Since these platforms have been working well for us, we decided to add social media buttons to our corporate email signatures.  But when we tried to do that using the standard email signature in Outlook, it was much tougher than we expected.  Thankfully, we found a company called DigiTech Branding that made the process very easy.   For a very reasonable fee, they help us design and implement an appealing signature that contains all the links that we need.  I recommend them if you looking to do something similar.  Here’s what mine looks like:

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Texas Trial Lawyers Annual Conference

 

 

Advocate Capital, Inc. President and CEO, Mike Swanson and I are excited to be attending the Texas Trial Lawyer’s Annual Conference, Law Law Palooza next week in the Austin, Texas.  Austin is a great venue and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association promises a great line-up of CLE, speakers and exciting events!

 

If you are attending, please stop by booth # 4 to say “hello” and enter to win a free Amazon Kindle.

 

At Advocate Capital, Inc., we believe in what Trial Lawyers do. Mike and I are looking  forward to seeing our extraordinary Texas clients and to meeting more Texas Lawyers who are passionate about protecting victims’ rights!

 

Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services

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Ken Hardison’s Charity Weight Loss Challenge

 

ACI friend and client Ken Hardison has just launched a great new project.  Ken is looking to raise funds for one of his favorite charities by having a “weight loss challenge”.  Ken is asking for pledges of support based upon how many pounds he loses between now and October.  We think it’s a great project and have pledged our support.

 

We encourage you to do the same!

 

Visit Ken’s new website to participate: http://www.kenscharityweightlosschallenge.com

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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Update: Texas Legislators Reach Agreement on Loser Pays

 

Last Friday, Paul Myers, blogged about the recently passed “loser pays” legislation.

 

Republican Legislators, led by Governor Rick Perry, have been pushing for the “loser pays” rule in what they call an effort to discourage frivolous law suits. Late last week, legislators came to an agreement over the disputed, HB 274.  The Associated Press reported on May 22nd, “The changes will replace the language approved by the House and would allow judges to rule on whether a case is without merit much sooner, limit discovery, hasten hearings and assess court costs more equitably.”   It appears at least at face value that the new rules would allow the judges to make decisions on the merits of the cases individually vs. having legislators make blanket decisions.  According to the AP report, “The Texas Supreme Court will write the rules concerning how these cases are handled, and we’ll have to see over time how they are used”.

 

The agreement appears to be a small victory for the citizens of Texas.  As noted, we’ll have to see how the Texas Supreme Court handles the fate of the injured over time.

 

Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services

 

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Stanford University Disciplines Professors for taking Payment to Promote Drugs

 

In December, 2010, I blogged about a report that not only were pharmaceutical companies paying doctors and other healthcare providers to lecture about the virtues of their products, they were also paying university professors and physicians at medical schools, as well, whose policies specifically prohibit the practice.

 

ProPublica reported on May 19, 2011 that Stanford University has taken disciplinary action against five faculty members at its medical school after determining they violated school policy by giving paid promotional speeches for drug companies.  Stanford is known as having one of the toughest policies against the practice, so Bravo for them standing up to big pharma.

 

This is good news for transparency.  More good news will come in 2013, when a federal law will require that all drug and medical device companies publicly report their payments to physicians.

 

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

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Another Blow against Individual Rights and Access to the Civil Justice System

 

The Texas State House of Representatives recently passed HB 274, which would create a “loser pays” tort system similar to the one already prevalent in Great Britain.  Governor Rick Perry has made tort reform a cornerstone of his legislative agenda for 2011, and this is one of his pet bills.  After the measure passed the House, Governor Perry said, “I applaud the House and Rep. Brandon Creighton‘s leadership for moving Texas one step closer to implementing a loser pays system that will help expedite legitimate legal claims and crack down on junk lawsuits. This legislation will also protect Texas jobs and stimulate economic opportunity by relieving Texans and employers of the costs and burdens created by frivolous and drawn-out lawsuits. I encourage the Senate to quickly take action on this important legislation.”

 

What Governor Perry failed to mention is how restrictive this type of legislation will be to small business and individual access to the civil justice system.  It is another example of the playing field tilting way too far toward big business, insurance and the already rich and powerful interests in the State of Texas.  If the bill is passed by the Senate, and signed by Gov. Perry, those seeking justice in the new Texas will have to consider financial ruin as the downside to bringing civil litigation.  This legislation is nothing short of bullying at the courthouse door.  It goes so far as to create a scenario in which a victorious plaintiff would be assessed a losing side’s fees and expenses if it turns out that the plaintiff had rejected a settlement offer higher than the jury’s subsequent verdict.

 

A recent Op-ed in The Texas Tribune eloquently argues against passage of this bill.

 

We can only hope that the Senate in Texas has more foresight than to pass this legislation, because Governor Perry has made it known that he will sign it if passed.  The Senate version of the bill (SB 13) is still in committee.

 

Paul B. Myers

Chief Credit Officer

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Advocate Capital, Inc. / AAJ Paralegal of the Year Award

 

We are so pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the American Association for Justice  this year on their annual Paralegal of the Year Award.  The Advocate Capital, Inc. / AAJ Paralegal of the Year Award winner will be chosen from nominees who have demonstrated their value as members of a legal services team, shown dedication to the legal profession, and shown dedication to AAJ’s mission: 

 

“To promote a fair and effective justice system — and to support the work of attorneys in their efforts to ensure any person who is injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests.”

 

Candidates must be nominated by an AAJ Attorney Member in good standing or by another AAJ Paralegal Affiliate.  Nominations must be received by Tuesday, 5/24/11, so if you have a great paralegal you’d like to nominate, click here and don’t delay!

 

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

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How David Beats Goliath – Access to Capital for Contingency Fee Law Firms

I am in the final stages of authoring my first book, How David Beats Goliath – Access to Capital for Contingency Fee Law Firms.  The book is designed to be a helpful guide for contingency-fee attorneys who are considering various options regarding the financing and capitalization of their law firms.

A sample chapter is now available for preview.  Email me if you’d like a copy and I’ll send it to you.  The full book should be out soon.  Many thanks to my good friend Al Stoll for his assistance with chapter one:  “Meet Wendy”.

Michael J. Swanson

President and Chief Executive Officer

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James P. Frantz Named Semi-Finalist to San Diego’s Top Attorneys List

 

Congratulations to San Diego Attorney, James  P. Frantz of the Frantz Law Group on being named a Semi-Finalist in San Diego’s Top Attorneys , Personal Injury category, by The Daily Transcript.  Top Attorneys, uses a peer selection process to determine the best lawyers in San Diego County in key categories.   San Diego County attorneys are asked to make nominations based on attorneys with whom they have had experience in a professional setting.   On May 27th the top 10 attorneys will be selected by votes from their peers as finalists to be featured by the Daily Transcript in a special publication called Top Attorneys.   James P. Frantz had the honor of being listed one of the top 10 finalists in 2007.    

 

Mr. Frantz’ other acknowledgements include San Diego’s Super Lawyers 2008, 2009 & 2010 and Best Lawyers.  Frantz and his team of experts have pursued justice on behalf of those seriously injured for more than 28 years.  His practice includes commercial business matters, product liability claims, wrongful death, brain injury and explosion cases.   Advocate Capital, Inc., proudly supports Mr. Frantz as he and his team continues their efforts on behalf of injured citizens.

 

Lisa Wagner

Vice President, Client Services

 

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