How to Behave in a Courtroom

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When you are a defendant or plaintiff in a courtroom proceeding, you shouldn’t expect to prevail based on the truth alone.

No matter how convinced you are of the righteousness of your cause judges and juries won’t automatically give you the benefit of the doubt. If you want them to take you seriously you must prove your case and establish yourself as a reliable, trustworthy and dependable person.

Six Principles of Conduct

Fairly or unfairly, your conduct in the courtroom can play a decisive role in the final resolution of your case.

Here are a few important principles of proper courtroom behavior you should always try to observe …

  1. Dress for success

Comfort and personal expression don’t matter but the impression you make on the judge and jury does. Suits, dress shirts and pants for men and a business suit or other type of workplace-appropriate outfit for women are good choices. Be sure to wear dress shoes, not sneakers or sandals.

  1. Follow instructions to the letter

Do what bailiffs, court attendants and judges tell you to do. Go where they tell you to go and don’t assume a combative or non-cooperative attitude. If you don’t understand an instruction ask a court official about it politely and thank them for their response.

  1. Speak only when you’re supposed too

Don’t interrupt judges or lawyers—not even your own—and don’t speak to family or friends sitting in the gallery. Cell phones are forbidden in courtrooms so don’t even think about using one, even if court isn’t officially in session.

  1. Watch your body language

Body language that expresses excessive or negative emotion, such as eye rolling, hand waving, crossed arms, finger pointing or wild gesturing should be avoided. Listen intently when others are testifying, or conversing with the judge, and remain calm and under control when your turn comes to speak.

  1. Speak clearly and politely

If you are required to speak to the court, stand up, address the judge as “your honor” and don’t shout, mumble or whisper. Never show impatience if the judge or opposing attorney interrupts you to ask for clarification. Maintain eye contact with judges, attorneys or jury members as appropriate, and when you finish speaking say ‘thank you’ and return to your seat promptly.

  1. Answer questions directly, honestly and respectfully – but don’t let yourself be rushed

When testifying keep your answers brief and to-the-point. Resist the temptation to embellish your statements or accent them by gesturing or raising your voice. If you find a particular question combative or hostile don’t respond aggressively or react with defensiveness. Take your time to gather your thoughts before responding and never let the opposing counsel bait you or rush you into answering too quickly.

Respect the Court and the Court will Respect You

A composed, careful, dignified manner lets the judge, jury and court officers know you take the proceedings seriously. Demonstrate respect and you will gain it in return, and if the facts truly are on your side your chances of winning your case will be significantly enhanced.

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Property Rights And Trespassing

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Did you know that occupying on private land protected by Property rights is considered a trespass? The law will find you guilty and can send you away for a couple of months or pay some hefty fee you’ll probably regret. So to avoid such a debacle, here are some facts about property rights and trespassing you should know about:

What Constitutes a Trespass?

If you physically cross the boundary into someone else’s property, that’s a trespass. Property intrusion will either be on the land itself, above the surface or below the surface as well. So if you dig your way past someone’s property boundary or fly a plan or drone above the ground, you have already trespassed.

Intentional or Unintentional?

Intentional trespassing is when a person willingly crosses the boundary to someone’s property. It doesn’t matter whether the individual didn’t have the intention or clue they are trespassing; such an act warrants the property owner to seek action against the intruder. On the other hand, there is unintentional trespassing, which is when the intruder accidentally enters the property when it wasn’t their intention to. Such an act will be considered malicious only if it causes any harm to the property owner or anything confined within the said property.

Entering without Permission

The property owner may license an individual to enter the land when they please. However, the land owner has the right to revoke that license/permission after which it will be considered a trespass if the individual continues to occupy the land. Where the land owner does not withdraw the license, a trespass will be recorded when the individual stays in the land after expiry of their license. If the individual exceeds the agreement stated on the license, it is considered a trespass as well.

Entering without Privilege

This is a law that grants an individual, say the police, right to enter the property without the owner’s consent. This is usually to curb a nuisance or perceived harm within the property to retrieve someone else’s property on the land or to perform any duty mandated by the law.

This is generally the scope that entails Property Rights and Trespassing. Follow us at The Judge’s Chamber: Law Blog for more tips on legal rights.

What You Need To Know About Slip And Fall Injury Lawsuits

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The term “slip and fall” refers to incidents where a person literally slips or falls on someone Else’s property. If the person is injured then this falls under a “premises liability” case and the property owner may be held legally responsible for that person’s injury.

Several Dangerous conditions such as torn carpets, wet floors, changes to flooring, poor lighting and narrow stairs may cause a person to slip, fall and become seriously injured. The same rules apply to someone that falls outside as a result of a cracked sidewalk or falls down a flight of stairs. There is one common denominator that separates a strong case from a weak one and that is the fact that the plaintiff must sustain an injury in order to be compensated.

There is no set way of determining who is responsible for your injuries if you slip and fall. The case is based on 2 important factors. The first is whether the owner of the property took precautions to make the environment safe and secondly, the court will look at whether you were reckless or careless in practicing precaution before you were injured. You must be able to prove that a dangerous condition brought about your injury and in order for the owner to be held liable, you must prove that the owner was aware of this hazardous condition and chose to do noting about it. The dangerous condition must pose an unreasonable risk to the plaintiff and they must be able to prove that they were not aware of the condition. So it must be something that people would not ordinarily look out for. The onus is also on the victim to prove that the owner of that the hazardous condition existed for such a lengthy period of time that the owner should have corrected it prior to the injury happening.

In some cases, with slip and fall injury lawsuits the court may find that the injury was caused by carelessness and lack of precaution on the plaintiffs side. In this case, the plaintiff has failed to bring adequate evidence to light in order for the court to find the owner guilty of negligence and premises liability.

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The Basics Of Wrongful Termination Claims

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Have you been recently laid off? Did you know you could receive compensation if your feel you were wrongfully fired? Here are the basics for wrongful termination claims you didn’t know about.

What Constitute Wrongful Termination Claims?

You are liable for a claim if the manner of your firing violate any anti-discriminatory laws of the state. You can also be compensated if you were laid off through a sexually harassing ploy, if the employer went against contract agreements or when the employer violates labor laws inclusive of the collective bargaining laws. Lastly, you are liable to be compensated if you were laid off because of laying a complaint against your employer.

Post-firing Tips That Help

Even after being laid off, never act out of anger and say or act negatively towards your employee. Find a suitable lawyer experienced in employee rights and seek their advice on the matter; they can also be your representative. Enquire from your employee the real reasons behind your termination and if possible the specific person who made the decision to lay you off.

Additionally, enquire for your personal employee file and try negotiating a severance package with your employer. If they agree on the severance package, make sure they put it in writing. Then take back any company property in your procession before fully engaging the lawyer to act on your behalf. In all dealings, do not allow yourself to be intimidated by the lawyer.

Tips for a Negotiation

Once you have the lawyer on your side, it’s time to discuss the procedure for your severance package. Ensure you remain calm during the entire negotiation process after termination. With your lawyer, think over the offer your employer offers and see if it truly benefits you; never just automatically access an offer you haven’t brainstormed with a legal expert. It will also be a plus if you convince your employer to keep you on medical coverage, as you receive your severance pay, at least until your next job.

By negotiating your wrongful termination claims, you can get a good severance package out of it. This works better compared to planning malicious moves against the employer and the company.  If you haven’t been temporarily terminated, an employee rights lawyer can help negotiate re-employment for you.

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Can You Sue For Death Or Injury Of Your Pets?

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There are many people out there that are animal lovers and want to know if they sue for death or injury to their pets. If your pet in injured or dies, you can get monetary compensation. However, this can only happen if you file a criminal charge for cruelty to animals and the perpetrator is caught and convicted. The court may then decide to grant compensation for economic loss a part of the punishment. You may also receive compensation if you file a civil lawsuit. This should be done with the help of a lawyer. You may also file a lawsuit in small claims court. These courts are designed to be user friendly and less complicated, so you can file a lawsuit without a lawyer.

Can You Sue For Death or Injury of Your Pets

One of the things you should bare in mind is that even if you win, you should not expect much money as the courts usually limit the payout to the cost of replacing or getting another pet. Most lawyers are not keen on taking on these cases for this reason. So because of the low payout, you may end up spending more on lawyers fees than you are able to recover from the case, if you decide to hire a lawyer.

If you can prove that the actions of the guilty party were malicious and intentional, you can sue for punitive damages. In many states, companion animals are recognized as having sentimental value and they understand that these animals cannot simply be replaced. This is why the court may also grant compensation for emotional distress. If you can prove that the death of your pet was intentional, then you have a criminal case to file. However, if it was merely an accident, you need to file a civil lawsuit or take your case to small claims court. In most cases it is best to simply represent yourself in small claims court as the compensation you are likely to receive is not huge and you want to avoid unnecessary and costly lawyers fees.

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What Are The Legal Rights Of Children?

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Although children are not granted full legal rights as those of an adult, they still have their own rights. These rights may change from one state to another but they are still existent. Upon birth, a child gains some inherent rights legally and these continue growing by the day. Therefore, before you act contrary to these rights, you need to understand what are the legal rights of children?

The first one is the right to grow up in a safe environment. This means that you should not expose your child to potentially dangerous environments. If the government for any reason believes that your child is not safe, they will be taken away from you. Children also have a right to obtain good nutrition as well as an education. Health care is a legal right for any child and this should not be denied for any reason.

With regards to the government, the child has a right to obtain legal protection. If a child commits a crime, due process needs to be followed by the authorities. Therefore a notice must be given and a subsequent hearing occurs before the child is stripped off any of their basic rights. A child has a right to express themselves and form an opinion on different issues. However, this right is of a limited nature and can be restricted by a person in authority. It is also good to note that a right to freely express oneself is acquired as one grows up and understands the differences between right and wrong.

Labor laws dictate that a teenager may work for a salary. However, the age at which he or she can begin doing this differs across states. Care should be taken when asking children to work as this may amount to child labor depending in the age of the child and the laws of the state. A child of a specific age may also get emancipated from their parents. This however is subjective since the judge has to determine whether the child has the ability to make decisions that will benefit them, whether the child has a meaningful source of income to cater for their needs and many other factors.

There are other many more rights that a child has depending on their age. As a parent or guardian, it is essential to understand these in order to avoid a contravention that may get you in trouble. It is your duty to protect the child and ensure their rights are practiced if need be.

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What Is A Legal Right?

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During the First World War, a young Yale law professor tried to unearth what judges meant when they were talking about legal rights. His conclusion was that legal rights were the benefits bequeathed upon one legal person against another by legal rules. The first party has the legal advantage, which is known as a right, while the other stands at a corresponding legal disadvantage. Two parties are always thus involved.

What Is A Legal Right?

Not everyone agrees with this opinion. The perspective can also get complicated. However, most law judges eventually refer to this opinion when dissecting legal rights. It’s worth noting that only a legal person has the capability of having a legal right. This is why legal personhood is our main focus.

The professor came up with 4 correlating pairs of benefits and disadvantages, which include legal rights of four kinds.

Liberties

A liberty allows one to do whatever they please, though they’ve no right to get respect for their liberty. This is a permission devoid of protection which correlates with the ‘no-right.’ This means that one doesn’t have a claim on what another person can or cannot do. The relationship between a ‘no-right’ and a liberty is illustrated by the analogy that though one is at liberty to look over their neighbor’s fence, they (the neighbor) isn’t obliged to stand there to be looked.

Claims

A claim stresses the need for respect, thus placing a correlating ‘duty’ upon a person to act, or not to act, in some manner towards the plaintiff. If two people sign a contract in which one party agrees to sell their house for an agreed sum and the other agrees to pay, then they have a claim for the house. The first party is obligated to give the other custody of the said property.

A ‘power’ affects the rights of the person who’s likely to be affected. The power to sue is arguably the most significant power which exists.

Immunities

Lastly, an ‘immunity’ legally discharges one person from being interfered with by a different party. Claims inform people what they aren’t allowed to do while immunities define what people are forbidden from doing by the law. One person can’t enslave another because this is prohibited. Immunities such as freedom from torture and enslavement are the most fundamental human rights. And it’s such legal rights that we argue that they also apply to some nonhuman animals.

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What You Should Know About At-Home Paternity Tests

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A man may be interested in home paternity tests for many reasons. He may have some doubts about the parentage of his child. He may want to establish a visitation schedule so that he can build a relationship with his child. He may want to have proof of parentage for a government benefit, as well. Home paternity tests are becoming increasingly popular because of their ease of use, cost-effectiveness and convenience. The following contains some information that a person may need to know about the tests:

What Kinds of Home Paternity Tests Can You Buy?

One of the most common home paternity tests is the swab test. The swab test is about $80, and it requires the user to take a sample of saliva from himself and the child. The parent then sends the swab samples to a lab, and the results come in about one to two days. The price of the test includes laboratory fees.

How Do Home Paternity Tests Work?

Paternity tests work by comparing a man’s DNA with a child’s DNA. The swab paternity tests are more than 99 percent accurate. Interested persons can shop for at-home paternity tests online or at physical stores. Pharmacies such as Walmart, Walgreen’s, CVS and the like sell paternity test that people can use.

Can You Use Home Paternity Tests in Court?

Some at-home paternity tests are eligible for use in court. Such tests require a witness to be present during the sampling. The witness must sign a form. Parents can then use paternity tests results in court.

Why Order a Paternity Test?

A paternity test can give a man and a woman peace of mind when it comes to their child. The custodial parent will be eligible for support, and the non-custodial parent will be eligible for visitation under most circumstances. The child will be eligible for compensation if either of the parents passes away, as well.

Knowing the facts on parentage is always the best option. Many trusted medical product providers offer home paternity tests for caring fathers.

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Dumb And Outdated Arizona Laws

464997291Arizona will be the focus of this post on outdated and dumb state laws. Many of the most ridiculous laws on the books in this state appear to be attempts to govern private behavior. Others simply don’t seem to make any logical sense at all. The following article details some of the stand-out ones among stupid state laws.

Although summer temperatures in Arizona can top 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it might seem unlikely anyone could get in trouble for refusing another person a glass of water. This refusal is unlawful and can result in a fine. The desert state might seem an unlikely place to find camels, but they do roam free after a failed US Army experiment. Hunting them is prohibited by law.

Probably the most outdated dumb law is in effect in Maricopa County, Ariz. It states that no more than six women can live in the same house. Otherwise the house would be considered a house of prostitution. Another nonsensical law dictating private behavior outlaws more than two dildos kept in the same residence. In Mojave County, any person apprehended stealing soap is required to wash him- or herself with it until it’s all gone. Rather unbelievably, women are prohibited from wearing pants in the city of Tucson.

In the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to buy spray paint, though some may agree with this attempt to curb spray-painted graffiti on walls. Another law that many state residents find acceptable is the prohibition of cutting down saguaro cacti, which are treasured symbols of Arizona statehood. Another wildlife related law prohibits donkeys from sleeping in bathtubs, though it seems rather absurd there would be enough of a need for this law to be passed.

While crime doesn’t pay in the first place, it’s inadvisable to commit any misdemeanor crime in the state of Arizona while wearing a red ski mask. Doing so will automatically have the crime in question upgraded in severity to a felony. If any person is attacked by a mugger in Arizona, he or she is allowed self-defense only with the same weapon the mugger has. Follow us for more on law, crime and legalities.

The Fifth Amendment Explained

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The fifth amendment to the US Constitution is designed to protect people against self-incrimination when they’re arrested on suspicion of a crime. It helps to ensure the treatment of the accused as innocent until proven guilty. A specific clause in the amendment prevents double jeopardy, which is a situation of an accused person brought to trial twice for the same crime. The same amendment also ensures the right to due process of law, a speedy trial and the right to fair compensation paid to crime victims.

According to the fifth amendment, no one accused of a crime can be forced to testify against him- or herself in a court of law. This extends to the requirement that the accused can’t make statements that count as self-incrimination. This amendment is the origin of the right to remain silent when arrested, and it’s tied closely to the Miranda rights that need to be read to anyone upon arrest.

The idea of the right to remain silent comes from the 17th century English politician John Lilburne, who refused to sign a pledge to answer every question asked of him upon arrest for distributing Puritan literature. Even after public corporal punishment, he continued to campaign for the rights of the accused and for protective measures against their being imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.

Further development of the fifth amendment is credited to James Madison, the fourth president of the United States and one of the framers of the Constitution. He wrote that no one should ever be forced to be a witness against him- or herself in any type of criminal case. Several of the first US states didn’t include these protections in their individual constitutions, and Madison felt it was vital the rights of the accused be preserved on a federal level.

Since its inception, the fifth amendment has been changed and updated several times over the centuries. These amendments have included exceptions when public safety is immediately at risk and when a non-custodial parent is accused of kidnapping his or her child away from the custodial parent.

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